Remember the sweet innocence of the song: The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me! I'll read it through and believe it too, the B-I-B-L-E? According to new data from Barna and the American Bible Society, most Americans still believe that.
In their State of the Bible in 2013 report, the American Bible Society reveals an overwhelming majority of Americans own and believe what the Bible says. Eighty-eight percent own a Bible, Eighty percent say the Bible is sacred and 61 percent wished they read it more. Like so many of us, 77 percent believe the "morals and values of America are declining" and they contribute the reasons for that in the following ways:
- 32 percent believe it is because we are not reading our Bibles
- 29 percent point to the messages coming from the media
- 25 percent identify corporate greed for the moral decline
But in the midst of the good news report, there is some troubling news as well. Over the last few years, those who believe the Bible to be the word of God, inspired and inerrant, and who read the Scriptures at least four times a week has remained around 20 percent. But for those who are antagonistic to the Bible – those that think the Bible is merely a compellation of stories written by men, and who never read the Book – that number has risen from 10 percent to 17 percent over the last two years. (It does make one wonder how the very people who do not read the Book can make accusations of mistakes, contradictions and falsehoods.) It also explains why we are seeing so many heretical versions of the Bible being published nowadays.
Take, for example, the new Golden Rule Bible. Published by Tubi Publishing, the 'bible' purports to set the record straight on the subject of homosexuality. Cryptographer Michael Wood has provided the basis for the "new" interpretations. He claims the Apostle Paul actually defended homosexuals and says the real issue of the day was the corruption 'of young boys.'
But most egregious of all, is the assertion made by Wood that "righteousness" does not mean "salvation through religious righteousness" but rather, he alleges, salvation comes "through ethics apart from religious obligations."
"Proper translation shows that every New Testament author promoted brotherly love as the entire Judgment Day standard and only unkindness results in spiritual death," says Wood. How 'unkind' does one have to be to merit eternal separation from God?
Consider what the Apostle Paul did say on the subject of spiritual death. Righteousness is required for us to enter into the Kingdom of God. The standard of righteousness is measured by the very nature of God Himself. No one can possibly be righteous or ethical or kind enough to rise to the level of a perfect, holy God. We all mess up, all the time.
Paul wrote: no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:20, NIV). We desperately need the righteousness that is imputed to us by receiving the completed work of the Cross.
That's the message of the Bible – what Christ did for us, His unmerited grace so freely given to those who receive. The B-I-B-L-E is still the book for me.