Why are We so Biblically Illiterate?

26 April 2013 by Rev Dr Steven Kau – 


Why in a culture where nearly everyone can read, has access to a Bible and has a church on almost every corner, is there such biblical illiteracy? I believe the answer to this question is to be found springing from the society we are part of.



First, there is a diminished stress on education. We see this in lowered national standards. Lowered expectations. Lowered requirements. We emphasize “feeling good” about ourselves and therefore we accept mediocrity. Defining educational excellence and striving for it is old-fashioned and exclusionary.

Second, there is an emphasis on “rights” over “responsibility.” The phrases are so common they are clichéd: “I deserved it.” “It’s my right.” Whether or not we’ve “earned” it is irrelevant, because I want it, it’s my “right.”

Third, there is a lack of balance in our use of time. The latest handheld techno-gadgets have become our Bibles, traveling with us wherever we go; providing structure and order to our days, advising us of what we can and can’t do. The thing they don’t provide us is balance, rest, prioritization and peace. We have become multi-tasking people instead of single-focused persons.



Fourth, there is a “quick fix” mentality. We live in a culture of sound-bytes, immediate access, convenience technology and instant gratification. We are unwilling to sweat and wait and work for what we want.

Think for a minute of how this cultural worldview plays itself out within the Church:
With our diminished stress on education, we are content with teaching the bare basics of the faith in our churches. We are so concerned that people will become “overwhelmed” or “frightened” by the harder truths of Scripture, or by an in-depth study of doctrine, that we don’t present it to them. After all, they are saved and the rest is secondary. So we keep them on a milk diet and then wonder why they can’t digest meat.

The cultural emphasis on “rights” means that we look at the benefits of Christianity…….answered prayer, spiritual gifts, blessings, leadership etc …as our “rights” as children of God. The thought that the fullness of these things comes only through a life of obedience and daily spiritual disciplines is unpalatable.



Our schedules show a lack of balance in our lives. How often do you have in your daily planner: quiet time, prayer time, weekend spiritual retreat; time for an unhurried walk, may take all afternoon you know! We have planned God right out of our lives. Instead of providing us more time to spend on our spiritual development, we have less, because we schedule the time we have down to a wire. God gives us 168 hours a week and giving Him back 2 hours a week is a real hassle it seems and we swear we love the Lord a whole lot. Am I missing something here?

Finally, our quick-fix mentality has lost to us entire Christian history of devotion, dedication, spiritual formation, solitude, labor and suffering. We have no time to wait for what is good and we don’t have patience with pain. We will not tarry for wisdom, nor work for fulfillment. If maturity cannot be gained in five-minutes easy to understand devotional readings, then it won’t be gained at all. Paul’s admonition to “……work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” must surely be a big joke.



Why are we biblically illiterate as the Church? The above points can be summarized neatly: We do not stress responsibility. We do not stress balance. We do not stress perseverance. Our needs take priority over what God expects of us.

Without these, biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity cannot be achieved.


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