Biblical illiteracy ‘utmost problem’ facing global evangelicalism

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Professor Thomas Schirrmacher of the World Evangelical Alliance speaks to the media at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea on November 5, 2013.

The biggest crisis facing the evangelical, global church today is the growing lack of biblical literacy worldwide, Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly head of the World Evangelical Alliance says.

“Our biggest problem is that Bible knowledge is fading away,” Schirrmacher told The Christian Post according to the WEA website. “This is the utmost problem we have beyond all theological differences, financial problems, and political questions.”

Schirrmacher studied theology in Switzerland and the United States, and serves as the WEA’s Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns, although he will become Secretary General next year.

He said that in the Western world “more and more kids that come from evangelical families are not really rooted in the Bible,” and many of them leave the faith.

“In the Western world, the percentage of kids from Christian families who stay in the faith is going down,” Schirrmacher said.

The number of young people leaving the faith in Western countries is “counteracted” by people becoming Christians as young adults in other parts of the world, according to Schirrmacher.

The conservative magazine the National Review carried an article headed “Why American Children Stopped Believing in God,” on Dec. 13.

“The time has come for religious parents to take their children back from the state.


It said, “It turns out that religiosity is usually determined very early in life. All the data suggest that, by and large, kids brought up in religious households stay religious and kids who aren’t, don’t.

“Consequently, childhood religiosity has been, and remains, the most important indicator of America’s religious trajectory. The story of religious decline in America is not the story of adults consciously rejecting the faith of their forefathers:

“It’s the story of each generation receiving a more secular upbringing than the generation preceding it. What accounts for this secularization of childhood over time? Taxpayer dollars.”

Schirrmacher said that young Christians also lack deep biblical knowledge and “only know about the Bible what they learned from their conversion,” he said. In rural areas, young Christians are often tasked with leading large churches despite their lack of biblical and theological knowledge.

“So many people are becoming believers that the one who has been a believer the longest becomes the leader of the church,” Schirrmacher said.

“That might be three years. Short for us, but long for them. We have such a high conversion rate worldwide, that it’s extremely difficult to follow up with discipling, with teaching, with Bible knowledge.

“The result is that people know much less and are more much more open to secularism and strange things like the ‘health and wealth’ gospel.”

WEA cited the State of the Bible 2020 report released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, U.S. adults who say they read the Bible daily dropped from 14% to 9% between early 2019 and 2020.

The study found that the proportion of Americans who read the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in 10 (9%), the lowest number on record during the 10 years of the State of the Bible research study.

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