Bible Literacy and the Tyranny of the Urgent

One of the things that keeps me up at night is the shockingly low biblical literacy of most Americans - even people who grew up in church. Why is it that the majority of us own more than one Bible, have access to the Bible on video, DVD, iPhone, computer, and Kindle, and say we believe the Bible is God's Word, but couldn't tell you if Moses came before Abraham or if Hezekiah is a real book in the Bible?

I think there are a lot of reasons - maybe I'll blog about them someday. But Phillips Brooks (19th century pastor) had an answer that rings true a hundred years later: they tyranny of the urgent.

"Even the man who knows that the Bible is the best of books will read the new treatise on religion instead of the Bible, because he knows the Bible belongs to all ages, and can never pass out of date, while with this "latest publication" it is today or never."

To put it another way, we spend a lot of our time reading the newest, hottest book about the Bible, but skip the Bible because we know the Bible will always be there. The newest, hottest book about the Bible will only be hot for another year or so.

Completely illogical, obviously; and yet I'm guilty as charged.


elenburg said...

I'm guilty as charged too b/c I read a lot stuff about the Bible, but I know I can measure my current spiritual condition pretty accurately based on prayer life and my heart for the Word. When I was a new believer, I couldn't get enough of the Word. When I'm drifting in my spiritual life, it is usually accompanied by low or waning interest in meditation on Scripture.