Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has proved to be a pretty good game show host on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?,” though at times what the show reveals is no laughing matter. Too many contestants, who’ve already received high school or even college diplomas, demonstrate ignorance of the basic facts of geography, math, and English literature.
Well, Foxworthy’s new game show may well reveal biblical ignorance. It’s called “The American Bible Challenge,” and it will test contestants’ knowledge of biblical topics. It’s going to be interesting to see how people do on the show, especially Christians who claim to take the Bible so seriously. But I’d hope they would do quite well if they were to compete against some of the delegates at the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
According to various blog reports, delegates were discussing a resolution to add the English Standard Version of the Bible to the list of officially approved versions for the denomination. Then someone discovered that the ESV rendering of 1 Corinthians 6:9 clearly includes those who unrepentantly practice homosexuality as among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Well, immediately a new vote was called, and the resolution on the ESV was, in essence, tabled. But then someone got around to reading the other translations and were shocked to discover that essentially the same wording is found in the RSV, the NIV, the CEV, and several other versions already approved for use in the Episcopal Church!
That’s in there? Who knew? And as they continue their investigation, I wonder what else they’ll find.
Now I worship at an Anglican church, so I don’t mind poking a little fun at this kind of biblical illiteracy in the Episcopal Church. But the sad truth is that for many Christians, our biblical knowledge is like the proverbial river that is a mile wide and an inch deep.
For example, when I’m speaking to high school and college students about discerning ideas in entertainment, I often start with some pop-culture questions about this movie or that song or that game. As you might guess, students tend to do very well on this pop culture quiz.
Then when everyone is revved up and feeling good, I’ll slip in some Bible questions. In other words, I’ll go from “who was the lead character in this movie?” to “who was the lead character in Second Samuel?” or “Who was the fourth king of Israel?”
Let me tell you, there are lots of times that all I hear are crickets chirping in the background.
Sad to say, I’m not surprised our young saints are stumped. And I wonder how much better their parents, teachers, or youth pastors might do. Pollster George Gallup has dubbed the United States “a nation of biblical illiterates.” David Van Biema of Time magazine cites a telling example of this kind of biblical illiteracy: “Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel. Most can’t name the Bible’s first book. and the trend extends even to Evangelicals.”
That’s amazing. You know, if we know far more about entertainment trivia than Scripture, how will we know what God expects? How will we ever be salt and light in our culture? How are we going to take every thought captive for Christ while not being taken captive by hollow and deceptive ideas? If we don’t know the Scripture, we won’t know God or the world we actually live in.
My friend Rod Thompson, a theologian and the president of Laidlaw College in New Zealand, often says, “The most important ingredient in a biblical worldview is immersion in the Scriptures.” And he’s right. In fact, tomorrow I’ll share some tips, strategies, and resources to help get you grounded in God’s Word—because having a grasp on the Bible is anything but trivial.
And by the way, the main character of Second Samuel is King David, and the fourth king of Israel—Rehoboam. But you knew that, right?