Two 2018 surveys provide data about Bible reading and theological knowledge in America. The State of the Bible 2018 [ABS 2018] (https://www.americanbible.org/state-of-the-bible/ ) survey by the American Bible Society and Barna Research Bible reports the Bible reading data. The 2018 State of American Theology Study [SATA 2018] (https://thestateoftheology.com/) by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway presents the theological knowledge data. The data shows that meaningful Bible comprehension, which infers that Bible study, is not a dominant characteristic for many self-described committed American Christians.
These two surveys present a lot of data. After trying my best to understand the data, my overarching takeaways are below.
Self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake have: (1) a sense of connection to God, (2) an awareness of their need for God, (3) a belief that the Bible is a letter from God expressing His love and salvation.(4) a belief that the Bible is a way to know what God expects of them, (5) a belief that the Bible is a rulebook or guide on how to live one’s best life, (6) a belief that the Bible contains everything one needs to know to live a meaningful life, and (7) a high regard or view of the Bible.
Roughly one-half of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake appear to equate Christianity with non-Christian religions. This view is wrong. This result may be influenced by American society to be tolerant or politically correct. Also, this data reveals that societal and political pressures impact real-life decisions to apply or not to apply biblical teachings to their lives.
For about one-half (± 5%) of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake, the Bible does not have a strong influence on what they purchase or on what they watch on television and in movies. This data may show that these folks ignore biblical teachings when it comes to “real life” decisions.
About 40% of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake believe that worship with one’s family is a valid replacement for corporate worship. About 30% of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake believe that religious beliefs are a matter of personal choice and not based on objective truth. This data reflects the independent nature of Americans so that culture trumps biblical teachings.
For about 30-35% of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake, the Bible does not have a strong influence on their view about LGBT or gender identity issues. This data shows that for these self-described Christians, their Bible intake does not result in the application of biblical guidance when it comes to topics that are politically correct or on which there is societal pressure to conform.
A little over one-half of self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake believe that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. This secular notion overrides biblical teaching about the sinfulness of mankind.
The state of Bible comprehension in America among self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake tracks Bible intake when it comes to non-divisive issues. But for some respondents, the data displays an inconsistency between biblical teachings and their worldview on matters that pertain to self-will, politically correctness and the like that exhibit present societal pressure to conform.
The data shows that even for self-described Christians who are committed to Bible intake, there needs to be a more diligent effort to learn how to study the Bible. Christians must exert more careful observation of the text and engage in more intense efforts at arriving at a correct interpretation. Finally, Christians must have the courage to apply biblical principles even when they fly against one’s self-will and political and societal pressure.