My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge- Hosea 4:6a NKJV
I did a lot of grieving for the church this week.
It all started with an article I read. It was written by a “Christian” Mother helping her twelve-year-old son transition from male to female. The mother is “openly queer” the wife of a pastor, writer, speaker and LGTBQ activist. Her “daughter” was featured in a recent issue of People Magazine. In the post the Mother speaks proudly about her child undergoing a second surgical procedure to halt puberty, so that her son can become her “daughter”. Mom expressed her gratitude to God for “topnotch medical care” and a church willing to provide health insurance for her “daughter’s medical treatments.
The second situation was less directly messy. However, it is, in my opinion just as worrisome. Mostly, because the flawed thinking was far more nuanced and subtler than the first.
A man I am choosing to assume is young because if he is not he has a lot of growing-up to do replied to a comment I made on social media. He boldly declared Christians who support the former president in any way are “idolatrous bootlickers”. He also strongly suggested Christians who support the former president aren’t really Christians at all and in very real danger of going to hell. He felt it’s reasonable to make those rather harsh judgments because: 1. The president has sinned. 2. He does not have the proof he needs to determine whether or not the President has truly repented. 3. the church refuses to hold the president to the standard found in 1st Corinthians 5:9-11 (Paul insists a sinning person be put out of the church and Christians refuse to associate with that person until they repent) 4. He doesn’t think the President is fit to lead.
I initially responded to both situations with a cursory eye-roll and face-palm and moved on. Later I realized that both situations illustrate a growing problem in Christian churches:
The Mother claims to be a Christian but appears to be lacking the knowledge base to understand that God is all-knowing and all-wise. For whatever reason, she has not grasped the basic truth that God does not make mistakes, nor do events on earth escape His attention. Apparently, she does not know, and is therefore incapable of teaching her child the truth that God wants her child to be the gender he was given at conception (Genesis 1:31). The child should not be affirmed, rather he should be taught that gender is not an accident of fate, nor is it something we have a “right” to alter simply because we want to. The Bible is clear that if we don’t agree with the Creator on an issue it is our responsibility to get on board with God, not to take matters into our own hands and attempt to change reality. The woman seems to be ignorant of the fact that God is infallible and we are not. Human beings are led by emotional impulses, faulty information and flights of fancy. God on the other hand has access to information we do not and He is always right. Therefore, if we choose to fight God’s choice regarding gender (or anything else) we will undoubtedly produce nothing but chaos and pain.
That being said.
The only way to know all that is to know and understand the overarching message of the Bible not just a few verses taken out of context.
The second issue is different. The man did not seem to understand what the Bible says about much of anything. First off, every human being has sinned, Trump is not special (Romans 3:23). The only instruction the New Testament gives Christians concerning secular leaders is that we obey them and pray for them (1st Timothy 2:1-3, Romans 13:1-7). Furthermore, very few people know Trump well enough to know if he is even a Christian and should be held to the standard found in 1st Corinthians. Even if Trump is a Christian there have been no issues of gross immorality we know of since taking office (braggadocios tweeting does not constitute gross immorality). Even God does not hold our sins against us forever if we repent. Lastly, America is not a theocracy. Therefore, Christians should be careful about judging political leaders. It is perfectly acceptable to pray out, vote out, or in extreme cases throw out a leader because they are grossly corrupt, unjust or evil. However, it is not acceptable to throw out a leader simply because we dislike their demeanor or deem them unfit to lead (Romans 13:1).
We must never forget that expecting flawless perfection from a leader is dangerous. The Bible promises that someday there will be a flawless political leader. He will be the antichrist and some Christians will swear allegiance to him because he fits the mold of an “ideal” leader (Matthew 24:24).
Okay. So, here’s the thing.
The above-mentioned examples are of people who do not have a firm grasp on what the Bible teaches about some key issues. However, the real question is how many Christians would be able to recognize those flaws and explain them to someone else?
The answer is very few because Christians are quickly becoming biblically illiterate.
Our culture wouldn’t be in such a spiritual muddle if the average church person were capable of parsing out flawed thinking regarding biblical issues and gently correcting wrong thinking. The one thing every Christian can do to improve the culture is to be intentional about becoming biblically literate. Get into the word this year, learn what it says, commit to understanding what the Bible says as a whole rather than picking out pieces and parts we like to obey. Then commit to living out God’s truth in a gentle and gracious way that draws others into the Kingdom of God.
2 thoughts on “The Practical Problems with Biblical Illiteracy-”
Wow! Very well said.
Huge “Amen!” to that. I imagine the % of people who claim to be Christians, who have actually read the Bible from cover to cover multiple times, seeking context, culture, etc….is extremely low. It isn’t “reading the Bible” to pick out a section to read in your worship service and have it be taught according to the understanding of the possibly biased person teaching, or to take a verse or two and dissect it in a devotion. As a believing society…we are Biblically illiterate. Good post. Thanks.