Jerry Johnston Interviews Ben Witherington on Biblical Illiteracy in the Church01 October 2016
A leading New Testament scholar and author of over 40 books, Dr. Ben Witherington is the Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Pew Research has documented the indisputable rise of biblical illiteracy. I asked Witherington’s opinion on the rise of biblical illiteracy among Christians in North America. He told me,
“Well, I think there is a variety of factors. I don’t think you could just sort of pinpoint one thing. I think part of it is that if you look at what’s going on in the church in general in the last 50 years what’s really declined is not so much worship attendance as the educational component. Sunday school attendance has gone way down. If you look at young adults if they go to church at all they’re going for worship and then they’re going home. This is especially true in the Catholic Church where they virtually don’t have an adult Sunday school program in a lot of places, not anymore. And so when you lose the educational component you lose the discipling component, you know. The Bible becomes just a resource for your own personal spiritual musings or devotion, but it’s not something that you’re so seriously studying in terms of shoring up your intellectual life or, you know, having reasons for what you believe.”
Biblical illiteracy among Christians is growing at an alarming rate. The numbers will rise unless Christian leaders decide to intervene and equip those they serve. In our efforts to assist leaders, we are developing curriculum and digital products that will facilitate leaders in the discipling of men and women.