Bible reading declined sharply in the last year

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Rexlion, Jun 3, 2022.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    The State of the Bible 2022 Survey reveals some concerning facts. Quoting from https://get.bible/blog/post/state-of-the-bible-usa-2022-report-released-from-american-bible-society
    • Scripture Engagement is at a historic low in America, registering now at just 19% of American adults. The Bible Disengaged category grew by 45.2 million adults in a single year. This is the single largest disruption in Scripture Engagement ever recorded in the 12 years of conducting the State of the Bible survey (page xii).
    • In the past year, nearly 26 million Americans decreased or stopped interacting with Scripture. Since 2018, approximately 47–49% of American adults have been identified as Bible Users; this year, however, showed a 10-percent decrease to 39% (pages xii, 17).
    This does not bode well for the US population.
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Sad stuff here
     
  3. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Not surprising. Nor is this a particularly new development -- Bible-reading among Americans has been on a decline for decades. It shrinks with every generation, and with Zoomers it has reached pretty much a nadir.

    To some extent this wound has been self-inflicted. American evangelical churches for decades fell away from Bible-based preaching and teaching; in an effort to become "seeker friendly", they de-emphasized the Bible in favor of modern "therapeutic Christianity". They preached a bland greeting-card Christianity with very little (if any) actual theology behind it. That process, which got seriously underway in the 1940's, didn't start to reverse until relatively recently. (David F. Wells wrote about this in his book "No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?" That book was published in 1993, but is still relevant.)

    But I think the worm is turning (albeit slowly). For one, the numbers of American Christians may be shrinking, but the remnant does seem to be more devout. Bibles still sell like gangbusters, so someone must be reading them. One of the things I love about the Anglican faith is the Bible-centeredness of the liturgy and the BCP. If you attend services and perform the daily offices, you can't help but read the whole Bible over the course of a year or two.

    Sola Scriptura
    must become our rallying cry as it was for the Reformers. Preach it, teach it, read it, learn it, live it.
     
  4. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    [QUOTE="Ananias, post: 55227, member: 3593" All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)[/QUOTE]

    The trick of course is determining what is scripture and what isn't.
     
  5. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    If it's in the 66 books of the Bible, it's Scripture. It's not that hard.
     
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  6. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    The trick of course is determining what is scripture and what isn't.[/QUOTE]
    It is well established
     
  7. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    bwallac2335,
    re: "It is well established."

    For one example, the RSV and the NIV don't think so with regard to Mark 16:9-20.
     
  8. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It doesn't change anything about the message. Translators who work from the Greek manuscripts have to deal with ambiguity in the sources they have to deal with -- the original autographs are long since fallen to dust. Some manuscripts of Mark have the long ending; some don't. The earliest manuscripts do not include the long ending, but that doesn't mean the long ending isn't canonical; it just means that the manuscripts disagree. So most modern Bibles leave it in, but in brackets with an explanatory note. That seems a good compromise to me. (The same thing goes for the pericope adulterae in in John 7:53-8:11. Consensus is that this pericope was added later, but was kept because it taught sound doctrine.)

    I personally don't use the pericope adulterae as a proof text of anything for this reason, but it doesn't degrade any other part of the text. Nor does the "long ending" of Mark. It might be Scripture; we just can't prove it by the manuscripts we currently have.

    We inerrantists have to fight this battle all the time. Bart Ehrman and people like him have used the science of text criticism to convince a lot of people that the Bible simply cannot be trusted: that it is full of errors, omissions, corrections, and additions that render it useless as an authoritative source. Which of course fatally undermines the entire Christian faith (which is surely Ehrman's aim). But as Dan Wallace and others have pointed out, we have a huge number of NT manuscripts - in the tens of thousands at this point, going back to almost 100AD in some cases. We have the amazing treasure of the Dead Sea Scrolls for some OT books. The upshot is that our documentary evidence for the reliability of the Bible is far (far, far) better than for any other ancient literature. And the evidence shows that the text of the Bible as we have it now is nearly identical to the originals.

    I do have issues with some modern translations (I favor the ESV msyelf), but that's a topic for another post. Generally speaking, modern translations are doctrinally sound, reliable, and trustworthy.

    EDIT: If anybody wants an introduction to the text and transmission of New Testament manuscripts, you should read The Text of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman. (This was before Ehrman fell from the faith and became an atheist.)

    EDIT #2: Here is a talk by Dan Wallace entitled "Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?" It's long, but worth the time.

    EDIT #3: If you're interested in issues relating to Bible translation, you absolutely should buy a copy of the NET (New English Translation) Bible, Full Notes Edition. It's an absolute treasure trove for issues related to translating from ancient Greek manuscripts into modern languages. The translation itself is OK, but the notes are amazing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2022
  9. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    pastor stole our spoon.png

    I had an older pair of parishioners who would occasionally watch my children. They had one of those really expensive family Bibles with a solid, lushly bound white hardcover and gilt page edges and so on - KJV with woodcuts and all. Between the immaculate appearance of the volume and their general confusion in Sunday school, it was fairly clear they never read it.
     
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  10. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    I'm also reminded of a couple of conversations I've had with school staff at my daughter's school wherein the teachers come up with some pithy quote that they think is new and neat and I inform them it is from the Bible. Or they are telling me a story that they think is a fairy tale that they can't recall the name of but my daughter was talking about it and it's actually a Bible story. And then you see all the people who put stuff on social media about Moses and the ark, Noah in the basket in the reeds, Abraham and the 10 commandments, David and the coat of many colors, etc.

    I suspect the picture is worse than these surveys indicate. Because people will get the phone apps or desk calendars or little devotional booklets from their church (Portals of Prayer, Our Daily Bread, etc.) that give them a verse or two at a time and say they read the Bible. But substantial interaction with the text is not occuring.
     
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  11. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've never liked the "heirloom Bible" style anyway. My aunt had a huge, ornate Bible like that. It sat on the shelf for years and years. One day I took it down and opened it -- the pages were stuck together from the gilting, which told me that it had never been read. It was the only Bible she and my uncle had, and they were regular church-goers.

    I'm the kind of person who doesn't write in his Bible -- I like to keep mine as pristine as possible -- but I do have a certain admiration for people who write in theirs. Highlights, comments in the margins, underlines, markers, etc. I see that as a positive thing -- it means people are engaging with the text. It always shocks me how few people bring a Bible to church service on Sunday; they just read from the bulletin. Our pastor has actually (gently) scolded people for this, and indicated that he wants to see people bring their Bibles with them to follow along with the service or use the pew bibles and BCPs.

    The beauty of the current age is that you can get a high-quality Bible now for amazingly cheap compared to former times. Even the $20 fake-leather versions are well made and will last for years of heavy use. It's a golden age if you're a Bible nerd.
     
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  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Thinking back in my life, when I was raised RC there was no impetus to read the Bible. It was when I started watching Christian tv and then switched to an Assemblies of God church that daily Bible reading was strongly encouraged and the Bible was heavily quoted in sermons (while the congregation followed along in their own Bibles, and everybody brought one to church). That was in the 1980s. In the decades since, it has seemed to me that the amount of Bible usage and emphasis on reading the Bible have slowly but surely declined in the churches I've been in.

    When I started attending the Anglican church here, it was a refreshing improvement to at least have 4 scripture readings in every service (1 OT, 1 Psalm, 1 NT epistle, 1 NT gospel). And the rector does quote a verse now and then in his sermons, although nowhere near as much as that old-school A/G pastor did in the 1980s. But even so, I really doubt that 1 out of 10 in the parish have daily devotions with the BCP or (better still IMO) the Bible. Bible reading on one's own is not really brought up by the rector; it's off the radar for most. That's unfortunate, because we all need something that will help us keep remembering the truths of God's word on a regular basis.

    We tend to become what we think about. If we are to become more Christlike, we need to spend time thinking about the things Christ said and did. If we are to become more pleasing to God, we need to spend time reading what God said in His written word.
     
  13. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I have a good Christian friend who reads the message. He also had never seen anything in the Bible that could contradict women preachers. He is a member of several Bible studies or has been in the past.
     
  14. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    You should see my wife's Bible. All her writing, underling, and highlighting can be very distracting. I do write or highlight in mine but way less than she does.
     
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  15. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've met people in Bible study who are like that -- they've essentially destroyed the book by all the highlighting, underlining, page-folding, etc. One lady has to keep an elastic band around her Bible to keep the pages in! But I don't consider that a bad thing; Bibles are cheap these days, so they can easily be replaced. You show reverence for God's Word by reading it and engaging with it. A Bible that is pristine but unread is of no use to anyone.

    One modern habit that I've been trying to break is using Bible software (I use Accordance) rather than the actual book to do look-ups and references. I find that doing this cultivates bad habits in me -- I skip around too much and tend to neglect the coherence of each book of Scripture. I tend to sacrifice the whole for the part, and that's not a good thing. Computer software is great for language study (interlinears are far easier with software than with printed texts) and exegesis, but less good for expository sermon-prep and general bible study.
     
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  16. Traveler

    Traveler Member

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    Haha, brilliant!

    I feel the same way. My reading Bible is pristine, and I'm going to start using my study Bible for highlighting and notes.
     
  17. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    But verse 9 does add something. It's the only place, as it's translated in the KJV and similar versions, which places the resurrection on the first day of the week.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2022
  18. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Does this change any theological teaching or alter the meaning of any of the previous text? Does it alter the teaching that Christ was sacrificed upon the cross, or that he was raised? Does our acceptance of the book as canonical hinge on the disputed passage? Do you think the offending passages should be removed entirely rather than notated as they are currently? Or do you think the entire Gospel of Mark should be removed from the canon since we cannot determine with absolute certainty the authorship of the disputed section?
     
  19. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Maybe, maybe not - I don't know. But if it weren't there, the theories for a 4th day of the week crucifixion/7th day of the week resurrection would have one impediment removed.