For some Christians it's been years since they've cracked open a Bible or carried one to church. While most are familiar with well-known biblical accounts of Moses parting the Red Sea, the extraordinary strength of Samson, or how David conquered Goliath, few build upon these basic Sunday school teachings, resulting in what one apologist calls "biblical illiteracy."
In a portion of his new book Unanswered, a volume intended to shed light on several hot-button topics that loom large within the Church, apologist and New Testament scholar Jeremiah Johnston addresses biblical illiteracy and Christians who know "just enough about the Bible to be dangerous."
"The Bible can be stripped down, vandalized, added to, taken away [from], and 95 percent of people in the Church would not even know you were doing it because they simply do not know the Bible," Johnston told The Christian Post earlier this month.
"We have the most educated Christians of all time — the smartest believers of all time in our churches, and yet they are the most biblically illiterate. They know little to nothing about the message in the Bible."
Biblical illiteracy is a needless trend in the U.S., it seems, since the Good Book is so widely available. In fact, 88 percent of American households own at least one Bible, according to a 2015 study by Barna Group. But here's the catch: one in four adults say they never read it.
Millennials have fallen even farther from the faith tree. "Millennials are the first unchurched generation in America," Johnston told CP. The unchurched, also referred to as the "nones," account for 46 million Americans, according to Johnston's book.
"When you add that poisonous mixture with biblical illiteracy, we're one generation away from an all-out heresy or schism in the Church," he said.
So why does the best-selling book of all time appear to be losing traction with so many Christians? There might be a number of reasons, beginning with the person standing behind the pulpit.
In Unanswered, Johnston recalled a visit to a well-known Atlanta megachurch to attend a conference, and a pastor made a shocking comment about the Bible before a room of 4,000 other church leaders. Johnston was in disbelief about what he had heard, writing, "I would not have believed it had I not been present when these words were spoken."
Johnston quoted the pastor as saying, "I do not preach the Bible verse-by-verse, because that is boring." The pastor's remarks left him feeling deflated. The author noted in his book, "I left disheartened. The subtle message was that if you want to grow your church, become more like Disney and downplay the Bible."