The Word of God has never been as available, especially in developed countries, as it is today. In addition to a wide variety of print Bibles, people can find a wide range of Bible software as well as an astronomical amount of online Bibles and Bible Study websites. Thanks to modern technology, Christians (and non-Christians) have never enjoyed so much access to God’s Word.
The availability of Bible software and study materials has definitely benefited me, particularly with respect to my disability. Now, instead of having to depend on others to hand me commentaries, concordances or dictionaries, I simply tap a few computer keys with my handy-dandy headstick and voila! What a blessing to use the abundant resources that have been made available (at little or no cost) over the last few decades.
It bothers me, precisely because God has made it so easy to read and study His Word, that so many evangelicals have become Biblically illiterate. Al Mohler, in The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem , writes:
Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble.
Secularized Americans should not be expected to be knowledgeable about the Bible. As the nation’s civic conversation is stripped of all biblical references and content, Americans increasingly live in a Scripture-free public space. Confusion and ignorance of the Bible’s content should be assumed in post-Christian America.
The larger scandal is biblical ignorance among Christians. Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible. It shows.
How can a generation be biblically shaped in its understanding of human sexuality when it believes Sodom and Gomorrah to be a married couple? No wonder Christians show a growing tendency to compromise on the issue of homosexuality. Many who identify themselves as Christians are similarly confused about the Gospel itself. An individual who believes that “God helps those who help themselves” will find salvation by grace and justification by faith to be alien concepts.
We want to laugh at the idea that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife, and warped minds like mine might even quip something about them having the only same sex marriage in the Bible, but biblical illiteracy is no laughing matter. When Christians don’t know the clear teachings of Scripture and neglect sound doctrine, they easily believe false teaching and fall for unbiblical practices that lead them into counterfeit religion and, consequently, away from Christ.
As we approach the 499th “anniversary” of the Reformation this coming Monday, we should bear in mind that Luther stood up to the Roman Catholic Church because they had corrupted Scripture. As a result, he devoted himself to translating the Bible into German so that anybody could read it. A few years later, William Tyndale began working on a English translation, an illegal activity (neither the Roman Church nor the Church of England wanted the general public to read Scripture) which caused him to be brutally executed. These men, as well as other Reformers, valued God’s Word above their own lives, risking everything to make it available to us.
Luther and Tyndale would undoubtedly rejoice to see the amazing variety of print and digital Bibles in existence 500 years after their labors. For that reason, however, they would quite likely be distressed by the apathy evangelicals demonstrate toward the Bible. They’d find nothing funny about mistaking Sodom and Gomorrah for a married couple.