Know Your Bible? Many Christians Don’t

*Originally published June 19, 2009 

Some Christian leaders say this generation is the most Biblically illiterate in history. The problem: young Christians guiding their lives by a popular culture instead of Scripture.

The consequences could be devastating, not just for the Church, but for society as a whole.

CBN News spoke at random to young people on the beach:

CBN News: Can you name three of the 10 commandments for me?
Young Man: Nope.

CBN News: Can you name one of the 10 commandments for me?
Young Man: Nope

“Can you name the first book of the Bible?” we asked another young man.
“Testament,” he replied.

To a young woman, we asked, “Do you think you can get to heaven by doing good works?”

“I think there are pearls in heaven, like a bonus point, you know,” she replied.

Americans Biblically Illiterate

It’s clear that many Americans — including Christians don’t know their Bible. Just look at the numbers from a recent study:

  • More than 60 percent of Americans can’t name either half of the Ten Commandments or the four Gospels of the New Testament.
  • Some 80 percent including “born again” Christians believe that “God helps those who help themselves” is a direct quote from the Bible.
  • And 31 percent believe a good person can earn his/her way into heaven.

According to a recent George Barna study, most self-proclaimed Christians don’t believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit actually exist. And even though the Bible is very clear about the sinless nature of Christ, 22 percent believe that Jesus sinned while he was on the earth.

“I don’t think he was sinless altogether, no,” one young man said about Jesus.
“What do you base your belief on,” we asked.
“My opinion,” he said.

So what are the consequences of this on society?

“If you’re Biblically illiterate, you’ll fall into every kind of sin, and every kind of problem and that’s the problem with our country, said, Dr. Vinson Synan, dean emeritus of the Regent University School of Divinity.

“If you know the Bible, if you know the Ten Commandments, they’re warnings, so that we can live a wonderful life,” he added.

Open to Deception?

Lou Engle, founder of The Call prayer movement said not knowing the truth leaves a person vulnerable to deception.

“If you get off truth, you move into a realm of deception and ultimately, you think you’re walking with God but you are not walking with God,” said Engle said.

Engle stressed that there’s a great danger in being “spiritual” but not knowing the Word of God.

“Jesus said, ‘It is written’ when he was tempted! This generation has to say, ‘It is written.’ It has to know that Word if they’re going to overcome the enemy!”

When asked if he takes the Bible literally, One young man on the beach said, “I do take the Bible literally. I think it’s a good thing to base your life on.”

We also asked others why it’s important for a young person to know the Word of God?

“It can really help you a lot and pretty much. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” one young woman responded.

But today, Christians seem to fall more for popular culture. For example, divorce is just as common in Christian homes as non-Christian. And a growing number of white Evangelicals support same-sex marriage.

“What we’re finding out is that a generation has been taught moral relativity,” Engle said. “Our pastors are filled with moral relativity because they haven’t preached the truth of the Word of God to this generation.”

Famine for the Word

Engle also points the finger at parents.

“It’s the fathers and mothers. Family is the root of the nation. If you don’t teach kids truth, than we’re going to lose it,” he said. “From there it goes to the pastors and the pulpits.”

Dr. Synan says the real problem is famine – not a famine for food, but a famine for the Word of God.

“Amos chapter 8 tells us about the days that are coming, they’ll be ‘a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or thirst for water, but rather for hearing the word of the Lord,’ he explained.

“The saddest part is that young virgins and young men will faint for thirst,” he said. “It doesn’t mention that older generation, but it mentions the young people. They’re idealistic. Young people need something to live for and the only thing that really satisfies that hunger, is the Word of God.”