If you had to admit to friends that you knew absolutely nothing about politics, nothing about the economy, nothing about health or diet, nothing about world affairs or anything else that people are apt to discuss, it would probably prove somewhat embarrassing to you. But it isn’t a bit embarrassing for most people to openly confess their complete ignorance of the Bible.
In fact, it’s almost a badge of respectability to say, “Me? I’m no Bible scholar” or “I’ve never really looked into the Bible.”
Have you ever noticed, as I have, that when you stay in a motel or hotel while traveling, there is invariably a copy of the Bible in the upper drawer of a dresser or bedside stand? If you will experiment by paging through that book you will, in most cases, find absolutely no signs of use at all. It will be one of the most carefully preserved items in the room. The bed, the couch, the chair, the dresser, everything else may be beaten up. The towels may have holes in them, the plumbing may be in disrepair but that Gideon Bible looks absolutely brand new, with the possible exception of rings on its cover from coffee cups or beer cans.
This is not to say, of course, that people don’t occasionally sit around and talk about the Bible. But so often their conversation revolves around what they have heard about the Bible, rather than about what they have found from reading the Bible themselves.
Moreover, many have totally rejected the Bible on the basis of what they think it says, never having looked into it for themselves to ascertain whether, in fact, it really says what they’ve been told it says. Many scientists, for example, have rejected the Bible because they have heard that it claims the earth is only 6,000 years old. (It makes no such claim).
Others, seeing the sad state of the world today, have rejected the Bible or belief in God altogether because they think the Bible claims God is trying desperately to save the world now, and obviously is failing miserably in the process. The Bible, however, reveals a totally different master plan for humanity.
Still others find it hard to reconcile the concept of a loving compassionate, merciful God with the specter of the eternal torment of millions in an ever burning hell. But one can search the Bible from cover to cover without turning up any mention of such a place.
A major part of this problem of biblical illiteracy is that people think they must leave the Bible’s understanding or interpretation to the religious professionals, meaning those people who wear the frocks and collars that identify them as members of the priesthood or the clergy. In other words, if you want to sell a house, you go to a realtor. It you want to buy stock, you go to a broker. And if you want to find out about heaven, hell, the meaning of life, or how you ought to live, you simply go to a priest, minister, or rabbi.
The trouble with this is that some of these Bible “specialists” are not professional as you might think. Many will merely learn certain portions of the Bible, certain favorite verses they like to quote and preach from each week. As a result, many of these clergymen become like some of the guides I’ve heard about in the Amazon region of Brazil. As long as they stick to the trails and streams they are familiar with, they are safe. But if they wander out into a huge rain forest, such as the tactless Mato Grosso of Brazil that seems to stretch endlessly in all directions, they quickly become hopelessly lost.
Biblical illiteracy can be as prevalent among the clergy as among laymen. Surveys have shown that some clergymen cannot even correctly name the books of the Bible, much less tell you what’s in them! And other surveys have revealed that many clergymen believe in the Bible to a far lesser degree than do their parishioners, but they seldom pass this fact on to their congregations.
It can be an interesting and illuminating experiment to personally read through the Bible to see what it does say and what it does not say. Why not get started now in your personal study of the Bible to see for yourself what it really says. You may be in for a few surprises!
If you would like to learn more about what the Bible really says enroll today in our FREE Bible Study Courses, “Mini-Correspondence Course”, and “Traditional Christian Doctrines” series. The Bible will come alive as you look up each scripture.