A Generation of Biblically Illiterate Followers of Jesus

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Have you ever taken a step back and asked the question, “Why do I believe what I believe?”

Many of us when asked this question, reply immediately, “Because of the bible.”

Growing up in Churches this is just what we’ve been taught in Sunday school and youth group, from child hood on, singing aloud without thinking: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so…” 

We find ourselves believing and dedicating the entirety of our lives, the basis of our morals, the foundation of our hope, the very essence of our faith off “the fact” that the bible tells us so.

But does it? And if it does, why should we trust it?

Is the Bible Credible?

You see, we have somewhere around 5,360 manuscripts in the Greek that are all or part of what now makes up the New Testament. None of these manuscripts are originals. With the exception of small fragments, there is not a single manuscript that is the same as another. Within these fragments there are more variants than there are words. Yes, majority of which are minor, but does not the smallest of changes in a sentence at times alter it’s entire meaning?

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Though this is a “smaller” change that does not alter the meaning of a text, we have to question, the credibility of the text. With the knowledge that there are not only thousands of other variances but there are now complete omissions of entire verses and debates about which books should or should not be included…

It’s arguable that the bible was never fully canonized and that it’s an ever-changing document being tweaked, corrected, and translated still to this day. Men over the course of centuries have added and deleted verses, and entire books. Fueling the debates in regards to whether or not the bible is inerrant or if it’s infallible.

You ever find it weird how it seems some people use not only the same bible but the same verses to justify their contrasting views? It’s because the bible, it’s amorphous…

“The reason the bible matters, is because it can mean whatever you want it to mean.” – Reza Asran

So it’s more than a valid question it’s a necessary question to ask, Who is deciding what makes up, ‘The Word of God’? And, what makes their authority higher than any other (e.g. Martin Luther vs. The Papal authority; Pope Francis vs. Papal Authority; Rudolf Bultmann vs. Current Conservative Evangelical leadership; etc.)?

Point being that biblical illiteracy, it’s a thing…

One might even notice discrepancies between each of the four gospels. And, in noticing these discrepancies they’d find that these are each Gospels in accordance to ones individual perspective; a perspective that has previously been redacted, reformatted, and re-interpreted.

For many reading this now, it still, yet, comes as a surprise that Jesus’ primary language was not english, nor was it Greek or Hebrew. It was Aramaic.

All of this to say that this poses many tough questions for the church at large. The worst part is, this isn’t even the beginning of it. What about the manuscripts in which we’ve found relatively recently (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls)? Or, why did Jesus refrain from writing anything down? Were there certain agendas the authors, scribes, and councils had when piecing together these books and letters that now make up the bible?

I haven’t even delved into the realm of hermeneutics, historicity, and/or the various philological stances on scripture.

Point being that, biblical illiteracy, it’s a thing.

It seems as if these questions, and the overall credibility of scripture, are more than just poorly kept secrets, but, they’re elephants now overcrowding the room that leadership is being forced to face.

Whether or not you’re a Christian, progressive, conservative, or just born yesterday, there’s going to come a point in which you’ll have to acknowledge that the bible is an important collection of manuscripts thats impacted, and will continue to greatly impact, the future of our world.

Obviously one does not need to become a biblical scholar, but, I would argue that for a country so easily coerced by an inundation of fake news what do you think a political party might do with a scripture in which the world believes to be the very word of Gods?

 

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About Andy Gill

Andy Gill has studied theology for two years in Princeton and graduating from Eastern University stepped into pastoral ministry in southern California. His passion is to communicate on topics such as the pursuit of justice, equality, and how that interacts with one’s faith and theology. Currently he resides in Philadelphia and works with youth. He consults and utilizes social media as medium to share these messages. Andy has been featured on sites such as RELEVANT Magazine, Red Letter Christians, ThoughtCatalog, and various other platforms. You can find him tweeting daily, and writing weekly at his personal blog - feel free to follow along by liking his Facebook page.