Americans Tune Out the Bible

We love the Good Book, but more than half of Americans have read little or none of it.

Jordan Candler · May 9, 2018

In 1743, Benjamin Franklin observed, “How many observe Christ’s birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! ‘tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.” Franklin was mocking people for not practicing what they preach. This insight is especially salient today.

LifeWay reports, “Americans have a positive view of the Bible. And many say the Christian scriptures are filled with moral lessons for today. However, more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible.”

The truth is that a growing number of Americans are nominal Christians, meaning they are selective, perhaps even hesitant, about following the tenets of Scripture. There is extreme pressure to conform to secularist culture, which the Bible cautions against in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Bible is also increasingly considered more of an occasional reference guide than as a daily resource for Divine truth. These two points supplement each other.

Nominal Christianity plays out in strange ways. As Peter Heck notes, “It’s a peculiar reality, to be sure: the same people who will get up in arms if you announce plans to remove a picture of the Bible from the public square can’t read or identify much of what is in that Bible.” It also results in the surreal instance of a church’s endorsing debauchery by hosting a condom session. More churches are also throwing their support behind issues like same-sex marriage, despite Scripture’s condemnation of homosexual behavior.

Steadfast Christians oppose cultural degradation based upon what God is revealing to them, which occurs through regularly consulting the Bible and, more importantly, living by its precepts. The nominal Christian’s response typically doesn’t bear the fruit of the Spirit. The millions of Bibles circulating the U.S. won’t result in much influence until and unless all self-proclaimed Christians seek out and accept the Bible’s tenets with unwavering dedication. In other words, we must be followers, not pretenders. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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