Why are they rapidly growing?
How did this happen?
Why is America losing its faith?
What are the causes and cures of religious illiteracy?
Are the atheists & secularists winning?
Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quickpaced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise and revealing the seismic shift of the non-religious demographic known as the NONES, the fastest-growing sociological
trend unique to America.
THE PREMISE: Acute Biblical Illiteracy in America
The late pollster George Gallup Jr., once remarked, “Americans revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”
Gary Burge, PhD, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, asserts that biblical illiteracy is at a crisis level not just in our culture in general but in America’s churches. “If it is true that biblical illiteracy is commonplace in secular culture at large, there is ample evidence that points to similar trends in our churches.”
Burge pointed to research at Wheaton College in which the biblical and theology literacy of incoming freshmen have been monitored. These students, who represent almost every Protestant denomination in the United States from every state in the country, have some surprising results:
- Fully 80 percent could not place Moses, Adam, David, Solomon, and Abraham in chronological order.
- Half of the students could not sequence the following: Moses in Egypt, Isaac’s birth, Saul’s death and Judah’s exile.
- One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names.
- When asked to locate the biblical book supplying a given story, one-third could not find Paul’s travels in Acts, half did not know that the Christmas story was in Matthew, half did not know that the Passover was in Exodus.” [Ibid.]
Like Burge, George Lindbeck, the famous Yale theologian, has commented on the decreasing
knowledge of Scripture from a professor’s perspective: “When I first arrived at Yale, even those who came from nonreligious backgrounds knew the Bible better than most of those now that come form churchgoing families.”
Author and theologian David Wells has the same view. “I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy.”
A scientific survey called PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tested the
knowledge of people in thirty-two industrialized countries. The results of the study show an “insidious biblical illiteracy” even in Christian circles, says Volker Gaeckle, dean of students at Albrecht Center in Tuebingen. “Christian should heed PISA warning that text comprehension is a problem.” One hundred and fifty freshmen in a Christian college were selected because they were active members of evangelical churches and because they grew up going to church. They were given a test about their biblical knowledge. The answers to the questions in the test were shocking!
- The history of Abraham was founding in the book of Ruth.
- The Roman persecution was the greatest event described in the Old Testament.
- The Exodus was the return of the Jews to Palestine after World War II.
- The Ten Commandments were given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives; and some of the Wisdom books of the Old Testament are: The Book of Acts; Paradise Lost, and The Lord of the Flies.
- Genesis was the first Gospel.
- The mother-in-law of Ruth was Mary Magdalene and her famous great-grandson was Noah.
- Jesus was baptized in the Red Sea, was betrayed by Samson, and died in Bethlehem.