A survey discussed in the Education Reporter showed a disappointing trend in American education. Seventeen-year-olds across the country were asked basic questions about history and literature. In view of the billions we pour into public education each year and in spite of the high tech equipment used in schools, their answers reveal a disturbing situation:

  • One out of four did not know Christopher Columbus sailed for the New World before 1750.
  • Over half did not know the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.
  • Forty percent did not know the First World War was fought between 1900 and 1950. (Sixteen percent said it occurred before 1800).
  • One out of four did not know that the Declaration of Independence says “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

If those same teenagers had been asked about entertainment and sports, how much more likely would they have been to have gotten the answer right? Suppose the questions were:

  • What new movies are coming out this weekend?
  • What was the score of the Super Bowl?
  • What is the latest version of the iPhone?
  • What is the marital status of your favorite entertainer?

Now let us turn to a far more serious arena of questions. Suppose teenagers nationwide were asked the most basic questions about the Bible. How would they fare? How would teenagers who attend our congregations do in a general test on Bible knowledge? In fact, how well would our adults do? How many of those who have been members of the church for twenty or thirty years could answer question such as:

  • Can you name the first five books of the Bible?
  • Can you give half of the Ten Commandments?
  • Who delivered the Sermon on the Mount?
  • Who led the Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage?
  • What chapter of the Bible records the day the church was established?
  • Where are the qualifications of elders and deacons given in the Bible?
  • What is the one cause Jesus gave for divorce and remarriage and where is this found?
  • Can you show a sinner the verses that give God’s plan of salvation?
  • Where does the Bible say that homosexuality is a sin?
  • Why you don’t use instrumental music or let women preach in worship?

Knowing the answers to these questions is far more important than knowing about American history. Yet how many in the church can give the right answer? How many would fail the test? Why is there such a famine of knowledge in the kingdom? It is not because our people don’t have a Bible. It is not because they are not intelligent enough to understand; they have no trouble understanding other matters that get their attention. The answer is simple: they are “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14).
The writer shamed the Hebrew Christians for not learning as they should: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God” (Heb. 5:12). The sad truth today is that a number of Christians should be ashamed of reading the Bible so rarely and of knowing so little about it.
-Kerry Duke