Knowing the Bible Stories

A New England teacher quizzed a group of collage-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible The quiz preceded a Bible as Literature class he planned to teach at what was generally considered one of the better public schools in the nation. Among the more unusual answers from these students were, “Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers,” and “Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.”

Other students thought that the four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis; that the New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John; that Eve was created from an apple; and that Jesus was baptized by Moses.

The answer that took the misinformation prize was given by a fellow who was academically in the top 5 percent of his class. The question, “What was Golgotha?” The answer, “Golgotha was the name of the giant who slew the apostle David.”

In case you think this is an isolated instance of biblical illiteracy, let me quote the finding of a recent Gallup poll:

    • 82% of the people surveyed believe that the Bible is either the literal or “inspired” Word of God.
    • More than half who responded to the survey said they read the Bible at least monthly — Yet half couldn’t name even one of the four Gospels.
    • Fewer than half knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

USA Today reported a poll showing that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or not at all.

The Barna Research Group conducted a survey that focused only on “born again” Christians and came up with the following statistics:

    • Only 18 percent — less than two in every ten — read the Bible every day
    • Worse of all, 23 percent — almost one in four professing Christians — say they never read the Word of God.

The Bible is available in more than 1,800 languages, and yet someone has observed that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.