Since 2011, the American Bible Society (ABS) has been issuing an annual report entitled State of the Bible USA. Earlier this month, ABS released the first installment of its 2023 report, which tracks key metrics about Scripture engagement, Bible use, and perceptions of the Bible in America. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the newly released report shows a continued downward trajectory in Scripture engagement, which is not good for America in just about any way we can think of. The good news is that this is a reversible trend.
While our founders and founding documents were undoubtedly very influenced by Christian principles, sadly, over the years, our nation has become less and less overtly Christian, and part of that is because of the diminishing influence of the Bible in every aspect of our culture.Christianity cannot thrive when its definitive authority, the Bible, is not accepted and genuinely adhered to by the faith’s followers.
We’ve known for years that biblical literacy is waning. In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any compulsory Bible reading in public schools. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court also decided public schools couldn’t display the Ten Commandments in a classroom or anywhere else in a school.
These Supreme Court decisions along with a number of other cultural happenings, including the breakdown of the family unit, pretty much ensured that upcoming generations would be unfamiliar with biblical teachings and disengaged from Scripture.
The State of the Bible USA report documents these unfortunate realities. Putting people into three broad categories—Bible Disengaged, Moveable Middle, and Scripture Engaged—the report looks for trends, both favorable and unfavorable. This year, the first chapter of the report says the data collected suggests three things. First, when people engage deeply with the Bible, their lives and relationships are better. In other words, they flourish. Second, fewer people in America are engaging with the Bible. Scripture engagement is not rising yet; it continues on a downward trajectory. And third, there are signs of hope. The Movable Middle has rebounded, and Bible disengagement has fallen in the past year.
The reality is America cannot sustain its republican form of government with “we the people” as the central characters, its free-enterprise, capitalistic economy, and its unprecedented wealth and freedom long-term without the influence of the Bible and its clear teachings on what true Christianity is. John Adams told us early on that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” At that time, Adams knew people understood he was talking about Christianity and the Bible when he referenced “a moral and religious people.”
Thankfully, the loss of the influence of the Bible in our country can be reversed. That reversing won’t happen in public schools, to be sure, even if the courts decided to reverse course on Bible reading and posting of the Ten Commandments in those schools. However, as dads and moms make the Bible an integral part of their personal and their family’s daily lives, the next generation will become more biblically literate and more Scripturally engaged. Churches should help families in this area in really practical ways; but ultimately, we reverse this dangerous trend one family at a time.
This week, WFA held a “Lunch With a Purpose” webinar with Dr. Wayne Grudem, who serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona.
Participants engaged in an excellent discussion on politics according to the Bible, and we trust that it was helpful for all who attended. For those who weren’t able to attend, a recording of the webinar is available on our website and may be accessed HERE.
Below are a list of resources that were mentioned in the webinar:
- Politics According to the Bible by Dr. Grudem is available from Amazon HERE.
- A copy of the booklet “Why Christians Should Seek to Influence Government for Good” by Dr. Grudem is available from Wisconsin Family Council (888-378-7395), or you can access a pdf download for free HERE.
- A copy of the booklet “Christians and Politics: Five Wrong Views” by Dr, Grudem is available online HERE.
- Election resources for your church are available on Wisconsin Family Council’s website HERE.
- Wisconsin Family Council’s Voter Information Publication can be found HERE.
We encourage everyone to take a look at these materials to gain a better understanding of why it’s so important for Christians to engage in government. It’s vital that we know why participating in politics is so important not only so that we do so ourselves, but so we can encourage our friends and family to do the same.
Government is God’s idea, not man’s. He calls us to engage in the political sphere as a way of caring for the spiritual and temporal lives of our neighbors. Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). This means we must seek laws and elect leaders who will protect the unborn, support marriage and the family, and protect children from immoral influences.
Further, politics and morality are inseparable. Every law is based on some kind of moral compass, whether that compass comes from the false god of self or the One True God.
Dr. Grudem notes, “The Bible says that a government official is ‘God’s servant for your good’ (Rom. 13:4), but how can government officials effectively serve God if no one is allowed to tell them what they believe God expects of them? The Bible says that government officials are sent ‘to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good’ (1 Peter 2:14), but how can they do that if no spokesmen from any of the world’s religions are allowed to give them counsel on what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’?” Society can only thrive when our laws are based on God’s unchanging law.
Ultimately, without Christian influence, our government will have no clear moral compass, and Christians are obligated to exercise this influence.
The midterm election is just over a week away. Let’s respond to our calling and head to the polls. Don’t forget to do your research, know what each of the candidates stands for, cast an informed vote grounded in biblical principles, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
We are in the midst of a troubling crisis of faith in America. As church attendance continues to decline, fewer people are picking up their Bibles and staying rooted in God’s Word.
Last week the American Bible Society released the results of its State of the Bible 2022 survey. It revealed an unprecedented drop in Bible reading among Americans over the last year, decreasing from 50% to 39% of self-described Bible users.
In the survey, Bible users are defined as those using the Bible at least three to four times each year on their own outside of a church setting–not an extraordinary amount of time by any means. For Americans who use the Bible, at least 73% percent were introduced to it as children. Of those who don’t use the Bible, 55% come from homes with little or no Bible engagement.
Just 10% of U.S. adults use the Bible daily and 5% read the Bible once a week. This means the vast majority are not relying on the Word of God on a daily basis.
These results are sobering since the Bible is God’s Word to mankind, giving us the Gospel, direction, wisdom and more. The Bible must influence our everyday decisions and change the way we live our lives. Without God’s Word as our guide, we are forced to rely on our flawed and sinful nature.
Further, it is vital that our worldview comes from the Bible rather than our pagan culture. Society tells us that the purpose of life is to discover and express our most authentic inner selves. The Bible, however, tells us to lean on God and His wisdom rather than on our own understanding and submit to Him in all things (Proverbs 3:5-6). Unless we continuously read and remind ourselves of God’s Word, we will surely fall victim to the lies of the devil being promoted by our culture.
One positive take-away of the American Bible Society’s survey is that when children are exposed to the Bible, they are likely to grow up to be Bible users. Thus, the tonic to America’s spiritual illness is to raise the next generation with God’s Word. Parents should regularly read the Bible to and with their children.
Parents must be countercultural as they raise their children and instill in them a biblical worldview. Simply living as everyone else does will lead our children to moral decay as they are formed by the anti-Christian culture. We must honor God’s Word first and foremost through our own example and secondly through intentional at-home education. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” says Proverbs 22:6.
Please pray for a Christian revival and a return to biblical principles in Wisconsin and our country at large. A free and prosperous nation is only possible with a moral people, and the only reliable morality comes from God’s Word.