From time to time you’ll hear some preacher hold forth on the state of our country. He’ll (It’s almost always a man) point out the terrible ills in society and the ever increasing immorality. With waving arms, he’ll decry Biblical illiteracy. He’ll say if only there was more Bible reading, more Bible believing, more following of rules in the Bible, the tide would be reversed.
His prescription, however, won’t make a difference.
I spent fifteen years working with high school students who had grown up in a particular conservative Christian denomination. Most had been in Bible classes since they could sit still. They had been memorizing scripture their whole lives. I have never met before or since a group of kids with so much exposure to the Bible.
Yet they were generally not any more spiritual than other kids I’ve met. Many of them didn’t have any sense of a relationship with God. As this cohort of students grew up and started their adult lives, I watched a large swath leave the church of their childhood. Quite a number left Christianity altogether. Even though they knew the Bible like the back of their hands!
Or maybe they left, exactly because they knew their Bible so well. They had been taught the Bible. They had memorized Bible verses. They sat through sermon after sermon. But what they heard, for many of them, made no difference. Why?