The Pew Forum Survey and Lectio: Guided Bible Readings

October 6th, 2010 § 1

Sometimes, I find it difficult to deal with people who claim they know something when it is clearly evident that they are clueless. Whether to save face or to gain access to the “in” crowd, these people attempt to knowledgeably dialogue on this hypothetical subject. Inevitably, his or her dearth of understanding betrays him or her. Similarly, the latest survey from Pew Forum on Religion exposes the ever greater scarcity of religious knowledge in American Christianity.

The results of the survey released by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life are staggering:  Atheists, Agnostics, Mormons, and Jews score best on the religious knowledge survey. Protestants as a whole could only correctly answer an average of 16 questions out of 32. In fact, 53% of Protestants were unable to correctly identify Martin Luther as the defining figure in the Protestant Reformation. It is clear that many self-proclaiming Christians act similarly to those clueless hypothetical friends in the preceding paragraph.

While Americans scored slightly above average on questions pertaining to the Bible, the general lack of knowledge concerning rudimentary elements in the Christian faith is alarming. If Christian’s have insufficient knowledge of Christian principles, how can they act within the guidelines of Christian teaching and doctrine?

Seeking to find a remedy for these harrowing statistics, the Center for Biblical and Theological Education debuts Lectio: Guided Bible Readings this fall quarter. A freely available weekly reading program, Lectio provides the public with useful tools in which to dive deeply into Scripture. Led by School of Theology faculty, Lectio seeks not only to educate individuals but also to unite them with a community studying the same biblical subjects. Join us as we read through the bible together.

- Donovan Richards

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§ One Response to “The Pew Forum Survey and Lectio: Guided Bible Readings

  • Brad says:

    Lectio is good stuff. However, I’m not sure the problem is the lack of material to study. Christ in Our Home, The Upper Room, Eugene Peterson’s Solo, etc. etc. etc. There is a LOT of material out there – some free, some not.

    “While Americans scored slightly above average on questions pertaining to the Bible, the general lack of knowledge concerning rudimentary elements in the Christian faith is alarming. If Christian’s have insufficient knowledge of Christian principles, how can they act within the guidelines of Christian teaching and doctrine?”

    What follows may sound a bit harsh..

    IMO, the general lack of knowledge is a direct result of two things: the lack of will and the lack of catechesis in churches. Then there’s one more lurking problem I’ll mention that is also contributing…

    The lack of will is relatively self-evident. As I just mentioned, there’s all sorts of material out there, but it’s either not being read or not being retained. I suspect it’s more the former than the latter.

    Then we get to churches. How many churches provide *real* study of doctrine and the scriptures outside of the sermon/homily? I’ll answer that hypothetical question with a question: Who’s going to do it and how are they going to be paid? You’ve got to hand it to the Catholics and Orthodox, who generally don’t accept anyone onto their parts of the ranch until that person has been through a thorough process of formation. But to us it just sounds so unpalatable.. *making* people learn things before they join us!

    And that leads to the lurking problem: a part of what I would call the Ongoing Reformation. We live in an era when many Christians feel very little (if any) loyalty to a particular church or denomination. So when the going gets tough, the.. not-so-tough.. look for another church. And because many non-denominational churches (in particular) are simply marketing machines they’ll either steer clear of *boring* stuff like doctrine and (small-o) orthodoxy in exchange for cooler stuff or they’ll distill important truths (dare I use the word dogma?) into drive-thru bites – oftentimes incorrectly – and proclaim it’s not important to delve any further.

    The mainline Protestant churches don’t fare much better as many of them provide an increasingly ‘innovative’ take on doctrine that strays further and further from any real theological grounding. How can people be educated in doctrine if it just changes with every social tide?

    So.. take heed Protestants.. we did this to ourselves!

    I’m beginning to think more and more that the pre-Reformation churches are our liferafts in this choppy sea.. especially after this breath of fresh air during the PCUSA’s latest three-ringer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVOEeQYhX7k

    Sorry for drifting off-topic, but the wound of our doctrinal ignorance goes deep.

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