America’s Love Affair and Hatred for the Holy Bible

Written By: Hilary - Jan• 23•13

I just learned of a most interesting study conducted by The Barna Group. As interesting as this study seems on the surface, I am not sure what if anything can be done about the information that is being reported or for that matter what if anything should be done. In other words, the facts are what they are. However, such data could provide would be church leaders with the information they may need to assist them in their planning and outreach.

Gutenberg Bible / CC BY-SA

The Barna Group set out to determine how people in 96 of the largest U.S. cities view the Bible. Their study was based upon 42,855 nationwide interviews. Their criterium: those who read the Bible within an average calendar week AND those who feel that the Bible is accurate in terms of the principles contained therein would then for all intents and purposes be deemed “Bible-minded.” What struck me as being very cool was the broad view summary of this which was “ACTION + ATTITUDE” determined one’s Bible-mindedness or lack thereof (my words).

Here Saints in Training are the 6-Top Ranked Bible-Minded cities:

1. Knoxville, TN–52%; 2. Shreveport, LA–52%; 3. Chattanooga, TN–52%; 4. Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, AL–50%; 5. Jackson, MS–50%; and Springfield, MO–59%.

Now on the flip side, here are the 6-Bottom Ranked Bible-Minded cities:

91. Boston, MA/Manchester, NH–16%; 92. Hartford/New Haven, CT–16%; 93. Portland/Auburn, ME–16%; 94. Burlington, VT/Plattsburgh, NY–16%; 95. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY–10%; 96. Providence, RI/New Bedford, MA–9%.

Here are two interesting patterns the group delineated that I thought would provide some cause for a “hmmmmmm…”:

A. Of the largest 30 cities in this study, 10 are at the top-half of the Bible-minded rankings. However, 20 of these same 30 cities are found at the bottom half of the rankings.

B. The greater the population density of the city in question, the less likely that city was Bible-minded oriented.

It would seem that these findings are interesting but do not rate at the level of an life-changing epiphany. One thing is certain, however, true Christians will never be found in large numbers nor will they be concentrated in predictable regions of any one nation. On the contrary, Yeshua implied to His disciples that only a small few unique individuals throughout history will have found the correct path to the Father and to the Kingdom of Yehovah. Matthew 7:13,14 stated the following: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way,  that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Sadly, fundamental churchianity would have everyone believe that the path to heaven is an open highway; that broad way of course is paved and funded by the hijacked doctrine of “grace.”

Apple Earth iPad Wallpaper
JD Hancock / / CC BY

I admire The Barna Group and I certainly honor and  respect its work. They provide much-needed statistical information that no doubt proves helpful to regional traditional church leaders. I find their information to be interesting and insightful from the perspective of trends and how the traditional church is fairing in fulfilling their version of the “Great Commission.” (Reference Matthew 28:19) Some of the current trends reported by the Barna Group are troubling and the fundamentals’ successful fulfillment of the Great Commission seems sorely uncertain. Consider one such trend that I have reported on in previous postings as well as spoke on in one of my sermons: the traditional church is losing its young people to pop-culture, social media, and technology. The Barna Group reports that young people see their neighborhood churches as not being geared towards providing them with Christ-centered life tools but more towards weekly entertainment (my interpretation of their findings). Entertainment they can find at the tip of their fingers via their mobile phone devices. One interviewed young person passionately summed up the reason for the fundamental church’s failure in this arena: “…the traditional church of today is failing to “task” its young people to “do something.”” Furthermore, the traditional church is miserably failing to intellectually answer its young people’s’ life questions. How tragic.

For the Torah-loving, obedient, Spirit-filled follower of Yeshua: …The harvest truly [is] plenteous, but the labourers [are] few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (reference Matthew 9:37,38)

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  1. James D. Thomas says:

    I was wondering what exactly did you mean when you used the phrase “hijacked doctrine of Grace”?

    • Rod and Hilary says:

      Excellent question. As a young Southern Baptist I was taught that grace was “God’s Unmerited favor” and I carried that definition with me for the better part of 4-1/2 decades. Our Bibles (KJV) mentions the term grace some 170 times and the general meaning (charis=Greek and chen=Hebrew) tends to surround “good will, loving kindness, and favour.”

      Sola gratia, or “grace only” (we are saved by grace alone) is the capstone of protestant churchianity. Certainly, the Bible supports the concept that salvation can not be earned and that salvation is a gift from our Heavenly Father through the redemptive work of His Son Jesus Christ…i.e., Yeshua Ha Meschiach. My contention that the Christian doctrine of grace has been hijacked has to do with the broad teaching by most Christian denominations that all one has to do to earn salvation is say the sinner’s prayer. That would be fine if the rest of the story is told: grace does not guarantee salvation and unfortunately that is where the doctrine of grace has been misapplied and misused. No passage in the Bible supports Christians continuing willingly in sin and being awarded salvation. No passage in the Bible supports Christians ignoring the Father (i.e., failing to pray and learning His ways and building a personal relationship with Him) and being awarded salvation. No passage in the Bible supports Christians disobeying the Father’s Laws and Commandments or disobeying the Savior’s direction to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” In John 19:17 Yeshua told the individuals who approached Him concerning what was required of Him to receive eternal life. Yeshua told that individual to be obedient to the commandments. That individual asserted that he/she was indeed obedient to the commandements and always had been. Then Yeshua replied that all that was left was to give up all and follow Him, to which the individual was unable to do at that time. So the question then must be asked: was Yeshua serious when he provided these guideliness to salvation? I submit that He absolutely was. The key then is that it is that the grace of God makes salvation free for those who qualify for salvation. And to qualify for salvation one must be obedient to the Father, establish a true relationship with Him, live a righteous life, and learn of His ways. The hijacked doctrine of grace has led many of us to believe that there is a highway to heaven. On the contrary: Yeshua Himself said that the way is narrow is the path that leads to life and only just a precious few find it (Matthew 7:14). It requires a complete selling out to the Father in every aspect of our lives in order to be qualified for the free salvation that is provided to every human being as a result of the work and sacrifice of Yeshua Ha Meschiach. I will discuss this in detail in an upcoming podcast. Blessings to you.

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