The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

Rick Warren’s Illiteracy Problem


English: PressKit photo of Rick Warren

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The Christian Post reported recently that megapastor Rick Warren has discerned a significant problem among American Christians: Biblical illiteracy. In the face of this, he’s launching a new Bible study called “40 Days in the Word.” In a year-end webcast he plugged the new study, insisting that “Americans are biblically illiterate. They just don’t know the Word of God… Our parents’ generation knew the Word of God pretty well. My generation knew a little bit. The next generation knows none of it.”

He may be right. Over the last several years it has become clear that American Christians know little about the Bible, and in 2010 Pew study atheists and agnostics performed better on a test of basic biblical knowledge than did Christians. It’s a problem. Christians should know more about the book they profess to love. They should not be biblically illiterate.

But there are other kinds of illiteracy. There is, for example, scientific illiteracy. It too is a problem in America. And there is evidence that it is related to religious beliefs. This is hardly surprising. When one is raised to see science as the enemy of faith; when churches actively work against science education; when a literal understanding of Genesis is a requirement for faculty at major seminaries, scientific literacy suffers.

It is easy to blame extreme anti-science people like Albert Mohler and Ken Ham for this problem, and some responsibility does fall on them.

But I suspect more moderate leaders like Warren have a lot to do with it.

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I agree with Jim Reed’s comment in response.

To be biblically literate do you also have to understand the problems with the Bible such as questions about authorship, unresolved contradictions, and things that are shown by science to be wrong? I would think you do. Without that understanding your biblical literacy is really only Christian propaganda. This might be the case with Rick Warren. His biblical literacy might depend on one accepting the conservative Christian perspective is divinely inspired.

And DanVoj’s comment.

Warren wants people to know more about what the Bible literally says than what we should know about it.

It all comes down to control: memorizing the Bible is one thing, while analyzing it is another. Control can always be had from illiteracy. Now, Warren’s statement is the same as many other “pastors” around the country, but you don’t see them recommending a scholar like Bart Ehrman for follow-up analysis. THEY are the true analysts, and they will ultimately tell you what to think.

Warren wants people to be Bible-savants, not analytical Christians.

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January 5, 2012 - Posted by | Biblical Criticism, Christian Education, Current Events, Science | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Rick Warren has a Pharisee problem. He knows 15 versions, but he does not believe them. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Christians do have a Biblical illiteracy problem and Warren will only make it worse.

    Comment by trutherator | February 12, 2012 | Reply


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