America's Bible Hypocrisy: Study Shows Disconnect Between Beliefs and Behavior [Excerpts]
According to the American Bible Society's "State of the Bible 2013" study, 66 percent of Americans agreed that "the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life," while 58 percent say they don't want wisdom and advice from the Bible, and 57 percent say they read it fewer than five times per year.
"There is a difference between believing something is beneficial and opening up your heart, mind and life to let that beneficial thing in," Geof Morin, chief communications officer for the American Bible Society (ABS), wrote...He explained that some people "view reading the Bible as taking your medicine," rather than a life-changing encounter with God.
But it isn't just a lack of motivation, Morin argued. Sixty-one percent of adults wish they read the Bible more. "It seems that many Americans are letting other priorities get in the way of them opening the pages of the Bible." His organization is trying to fix that.
According to its website, the ABS aims to "bring God's Word to cultural channels where the Bible lacks a strong voice and extend new reach within today's leading churches, inviting millions to reconsider and renew their engagement with God's Word." Along with sending Bibles overseas and using scripture to bring relief, this goal of transforming culture forms the organization's mission statement.
The ABS is also gearing up its work because Americans are more polarized about scripture. The study found that about one-fifth (21 percent) of the population believe the Bible is the Word of God and read it at least four times per week; while an increasing number (10 percent in 2011, 17 percent this year), believe the Bible is "just another book of teachings written by men" and rarely or never read it. The middle ground – those who say the Bible has some truth but rarely read it, is shrinking (26 percent in 2012, 23 percent this year).
In an age where homosexual marriage and abortion have become key political issues, only 17 percent of self-identifying Christian adults say they would "be interested in receiving input and wisdom from the Bible on romance and sexuality."
The study did bring some encouraging news as well, however. More than half of Americans (56 percent) believe the Bible has too little influence in U.S. society today, the ABS spokesman noted. Only 13 percent said it had "too much influence."
He continued, "What perhaps many Americans fail to recognize is that the easiest way for the Bible to influence society is for individuals to take it off their shelves, read it and let its words and wisdom influence their own choices and decisions."
"If more individuals were reading the Bible on a consistent basis and using it as a roadmap for their lives, I think the world would look quite a bit brighter," the spokesman said.
[TBC: The American Bible makes some good points regarding the problems caused by American attitudes towards Scripture. They would do well, however, to heed their own advice concerning reading and believing the Bible when it comes to their ecumenical appeals. In 1816, The American Bible Society invited Roman Catholic leaders to participate in its founding (“The Bible Societies,” Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Jan.-Mar., 1979, pp. 13-14). The American Bible Society’s ecumenical focus continues with their efforts, “to recruit every believer, whatever his private creed may be,” thereby coming together in proclaiming the Gospel in every tongue. The Society endeavors “to serve the whole Church of Christ irrespective of denominational divisions and creedal distinctions” (Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Jan.-Mar. 1979, pp. 13-14).]