A certain pastor was concerned that the children in his Sunday School were not receiving the Bible knowledge they needed. So, while walking down the halls of the church, he met little Johnny and asked him, “Johnny, who knocked down the walls of Jericho?”
Little Johnny shot back, “Preacher, I don’t know. But I sure didn’t do it.” The pastor thought, “This is terrible. Johnny’s been in Sunday school for years and he still doesn’t know who knocked down the walls of Jericho. I need to talk to his Sunday school teacher.”
So the pastor approached Mrs. Brown and said to her, “Mrs. Brown, I stopped Johnny in the hall and asked him who knocked down the walls of Jericho. He told me he didn’t know, but he sure didn’t do it.” Mrs. Brown replied, “Pastor, Johnny is one of my best pupils. He is always present. And, he comes from one of the best families in our church. If Johnny says he didn’t do it, I believe him.”
The pastor then thought, “This is really terrible. Not only does Johnny not know who knocked down the walls of Jericho, neither does his teacher. I need to talk to the deacons about this.” So, the pastor contacted the chairman of the deacons and told him the whole story.
He told how he had stopped Johnny in the hall and asked him who knocked down the walls of Jericho and Johnny had responded he didn’t know but he sure didn’t do it. Then he explained how he confronted Mrs. Brown and she apparently didn’t know who knocked down the walls of Jericho because she said she believed Johnny.
The pastor then said to the chairman of the deacons, “Brother Smith, this is terrible. Nobody seems to know who knocked down the walls of Jericho.” Deacon Smith responded, “Pastor, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Why don’t you just tell us what these walls cost, we’ll pay for them, and forget about it.”
Of course, the above story is only humorous if one actually knows the stories of the Bible. Otherwise, one cannot appreciate just how woefully ignorant of the Bible’s content the various members within this story are!
And yet, if one does know his or her Bible, the humor of the story is quickly negated by how closely it now hits home. Sadly, study after study now indicates just how increasingly ignorant the average American is of the Bible and its content.
Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, recently commented on the sad state of Biblical literacy (or illiteracy) in America today. In a 2016 blog post titled “The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It's Our Problem”, he observed the following:
While America's evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview's rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home--biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it's up to us to fix it.
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: "Americans revere the Bible--but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates." How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it's worse than most could imagine.
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments. "No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don't know what they are," said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? "Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate." [see Barna Group’s web site].
Multiple surveys reveal the problem in stark terms. According to 82 percent of Americans, "God helps those who help themselves," is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better--by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one's family.
Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble.
In his first New Testament Letter (chapter 3, verse 15), the Apostle Peter tells us as believers that we are to: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
To do this, it is imperative that we have a basic knowledge of the Bible and its contents. Otherwise, how can we ever hope either to articulate or to defend our basic Christian convictions?
For these very reasons, the Apostle Paul, in his Second New Testament Letter to his young protégé Timothy (chapter 2, verse 15, KJV), gave him the following admonition: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Bible is essential to the Christian faith. Therefore, it behooves all who follow Jesus Christ to read and reflect upon its message regularly. Otherwise, when the world presses us as to the substance and basis of our faith, which it surely will, we may well find ourselves without a foundation upon which to stand.
JOKE SOURCE: Paul W. Powell, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Retirement: 45 Years of My Best Jokes (Dallas: Texas Baptist Leadership Center, 2000), pp. 71-71.
Available Online at: https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php?id=146507.
MOHLER ARTICLE: https://albertmohler.com/2016/01/20/the-scandal-of-biblical-illiteracy-its-our-problem-4/.
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: http://biblehub.com/1_peter/3-15.htm and http://biblehub.com/2_timothy/2-15.htm.