What About This Decline in Daily Bible Reading?

4947868946_2d58f6d7ae_mOnly 14 per cent of Canadian Christians read the Bible at least once a week, according to a piece in the July 9/14 issue of Christian Week. This figure is down from 27 per cent in 1996.

A further fact in the article is that  “Sixty four percent of Canadians and 60 per cent of Christians believe that the sacred texts of all major religions teach the same principles.”

How do we explain this decline in the daily reading of Scriptures by believers?  And how can we explain the shallowness of our understanding of this incomparable Book — even among Christians?

Some suggest it’s the result of the vast array of distractions in modern life. Christians don’t have time to think reflectively about their faith. Or to return daily to its source.

It is worth noting that most people still find time to see movies, watch TV, eat out, garden, golf, and the like.  Might not the above figures suggest not only distractions but also a diminished priority given to the Christian Scriptures in Christian ranks? And could this be because growing numbers of Christians feel less dependent on God’s inspired Word both for daily guidance and a clear path to an assured final destiny?

Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Paul’s admonition placed alongside the above figures on daily Bible reading should shock us into a course correction. The Bible is a “God-breathed” book. It overflows with sacred history, divine wisdom and prophetic utterances.  It’s an ancient source of truth and, best of all, it gives us the Gospel of eternal life.

Its Old Testament pathway leads, sometimes obscurely, yet unerringly, to the world’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. And what it teaches us about the Savior answers life’s most important question: “What must I do to be saved?”

Among the Bible’s 100 most pungent, distilled and therefore most read verses are: John 3:16; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:13; Genesis 1:1; Proverbs 3:5,6; and Romans 12:2. Priceless, they each carry timeless truth.

If a kind of indifference is growing among believers with regard to the importance of daily Bible reading let’s remember the name and work of William Tyndale.

In the Sixteenth Century he hid in Europe as a fugitive in order to give the English-speaking world his English translation of Old and New Testaments. And when finally apprehended he was strangled to death and his body was then burned at the stake.

John Wesley, is another voice that we should hear. This founder of Methodism wrote the following paragraph that might stimulate us all to give the Bible its proper place in our daily lives:

“I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God.”

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Photo credit: Savio Sebastian (via flickr.com)

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2 thoughts on “What About This Decline in Daily Bible Reading?

  1. I thought 14% unsurprising until I realized that’s not Canadian Christians reading the bible once a day ,but only once a week.Even so I have an uncomfortable feeling it may be even lower in the UK. I’m sorry to learn that figure has almost halved in less than two decades.

    It seems to me that to get the most out of life as a Christian,it’s best to read from the bible every day,pray every day ,worship with other Christians at least once a week,and communicate regularly.This should help us to do the two important things : love God &,love others.

    To be fair minded ,some people may have difficulty reading .In which case there are cassettes,DVDs,CDs etc of the whole New Testament ,spoken.I have one spoken by English church readers ,so I can take in the Word even in the dark or while ironing or washing up.I’m sure there will be ones in Canadian Engish.And,of course,every time a Christian goes to church they hear the bible well read at least twice.

    It’s hard to understand how 60% of Christians believe the sacred books of all major religions teach the same principles.I’ve been a compulsive &,inquiring reader for many decades but I haven’t read all the sacred texts.Apart from the bible I’ve read alot of the Quaran,The Bhagavad Ghita,The Upanishads,the Torah of course,the Tao Te Ching and others.I’m sure we have some principles in common but I’ve never found Christian principles anywhere except the New Testament.

    Muslim friends I’ve talked with ,all who revere Jesus,cannot understand how I believe that He died a criminal’s death ( unjustly) , That I believe that death was a crowning glory in that He died for all of us,amazes them. One told me Jesus would be so angry when He returned ,He was going to break all the crosses.He didn’t believe Jesus died at all,but that God assumed Him & Jesus shrugged off his body.No resurrection !! Nor did He know Jeaus was the Second Person of God.He thought Jesus was merely the penultimate prophet.Yet Islam is an Abrahamic religion.Closer to ours than many.

    Our dialogue was respectful and even loving ,I think.But the way I see it is that Islam is a faith of the Book.Christianity is a faith of a Person.Jesus the Christ !.As John , Bishop of Warwick ,who baptized me put it – the Gospel is not about Jesus.The Gospel IS Jesus.Jesus IS the Word.In Bethlehem the Word of God was born.John the Apostle in his gospel,if he has s any nativity like Matthew & Luke ,it is this – In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.Logos,in Greek,but I’m English.So Jesus always was ,with the Father,from the beginning. Born two thousand years ago,but having existed always with the Father.I think.

    My muslim friend mistook Jesus for a human being only ,a wise prophet but not God made flesh.That’s a totally different principle.

    Of Course the Old Testament prophesies and foreshadows theNew Testament.More and more I.m learning that the Old Testament complements understanding of the New.Jesus’ New Covenant and the Old Testament are one Bible,each clarifying and jigsawing with the other.

    Paradise lost & Paradise regained.The old Adam and Jesus the new Adam.The old Eve and Mary the new Eve.The Old Mosaic Law ,(he Ten Commandments) and the new binary Law of Christ simplified into two perfect Laws and yet asking far more of us .Of course we still refrain from adultery but now we don’t think of it either.Of course we still don’t kill our brother but now we don’t call him a fool either..There’s a new biblical standard.Through Jesus we have evolved,if we follow this new standard.

    Because I have a asense of history I know how lucky I am to have oppurtunity to read the bible.500 or so years ago,where I type this,there were bible study groups up and down the country.Pre printing ,each bible had to be copied by hand ,by one of the tiny few who could write.Most couldn’t read but if any non priest ( apart from the nobility) was caught reading the bible,they faced a possible death penalty.Vernacular bibles were outlawed.No one was allowed to read the bible in English or German or French.Even if one could read Latin I’m not sure a non priest would be allowed to read the Vulgate bible.

    I think a 14th century ‘Lollard’,who risked death and imprisonment to read His Saviours words in a clandestine bible study group ,would be amazed that now it is legal to read the bible,and affordable. Printed copies are readily available,even free ( from the Gideons).Born in Coranation year,like every 1953 baby,I was sent a liitle free golden bible in my native tongue ,from Queen Elizabeth.The monarch is no longer outraged that a commoner reads the bible ,and in English.Now she encourages us to read the Master’s Word.

    In the ‘Free World ‘ every Christian is allowed to read the bible and bibles are readily available and affordable.We’re even encouraged to read the Bible.It’s like the fable of Sour Grapes in reverse.The fox couldn’t have the grapes so he didn’t want them.We can have the comfort of our Saviours words ,with no fear of persecution.So now we don’t want them ! My church friend Christine often says ‘we humans are a funny lot’.She’s right ,but surely we are not that perverse as to refuse the Bible ..

    John Wesley ,a very well read scholar ,nevertheless said ‘I am a man of one book’.The Bible is a whole library of history,wisdom,poetry & prophecy.It containins all manner of things from building specifications and hygiene advice to moral guidance ,life problem solving tips and even love poetry . It covers all time from the first things to the end days.It’s depth is never ending.I believe if a person had twenty lifetimes she would never stop finding new truths in it.It tells us how to live forever ,how to be fulfilled .It tells us everything we need to know and it’s a tool kit for life.It tells us how to make God well pleased with us.

    The bible’s not too good to be true.It really is ! I think maybe folk take it for granted.I never had a TV but a friend got me a DVD player which you can watch without a television.I like to watch all sorts of things – nature documentaries by David Attenborough,History Channel documentaries about the life of Jesus and His disciples,old ‘sword and sandal films’ like David & Bathsheba or Solomon & The Queen of Sheba or ‘The Robe’ which are set in biblical times but mainly romances or adventure movies. I like all kinds of imaginitive films ,like books.But there is nothing like the Bible.

    Recently I watched an episode of ‘The Simpsons’,a cartoon about a disfunctional family.Well,they’re loving and basically goodhearted.If only every family were even that good.They go to church every week,go to Sunday School & pray.In the episode I watched the father ,Homer ,got poisoned from eating a blowfish & was given 24 hours to live.So he pulled down ‘The Good Book’.Perhaps folk leave the bible for emergencies.What a pity.Starting the day by reading a bible chapter improves the day.It really
    does.

    I love my Tyndale bible.Reading it one sees straight away the King James Bible borrows very heavily from his translation,often being a straight copy.Yet his bible was banned .If he hadn’t smuggled out pages of his translation while facing humiliating death by strangulation in prison ,I don’t think there’d be a King James bible.

    I sudeenly realize.By strangling him ,they wre saying – there ,we silence you ,you man of God ,you Christian ! We stop your throat so the God inspired words from your heart never reach your mouth.They failed of course..Tyndales words got out and they sit proudly on many shelves,mine included.

    I also love my Thomas Matthew Bible.That too was translated by Tyndale,together with Myles Coverdale and John Rogers.There was no such person as Thomas Matthew.It was just a composite of the names of two disciples ,in order to protect the translators from execution. Tyndale was strangled & Rogers burned to death for translating the bible so ordinary folk ,even women ,could read God’s word. That working folk & even women could read God’s word alarmed the rich and powerful.For Christ’s Gospel has the power to turn a bad world upside down.Into a good world.

    In the end the King James Bible became official,the powers of the day not realizing it was more or less the work of Tyndale .

    I love my Wycliiffe Bible,the first complete English bible.Written in plain uncultured 14th century middle English , the language of the poor ,before English came to be written by the rich and powerful .Blessed are the poor.

    I love the Wycliffe bible’s plain homely down to earth way of speaking,which reflects the 14th century it was written in. It must have been like Pastor Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message’ is for us.Startling & fresh !.Angels are knights in the sky.When Jesus is arrested He is taken by armoured men to the Moot Hall.Israel is full of knights in armour and castles.It was the world English folk of the 1300s knew.

    Spelling wasn’t cosistent sin those days and there wwere some letters of the aplhavbet now extinct ,like thorn ( th ). But if you get a Wycliffe Bible in modern aphabet & in modern spelling it’s easily undrstandable with the aid a small glossary of those words whose meaning has changed.IYet word for word it’s the original Wycliffe.t reads lively and fresh and reminds us of those early persecuted bible study groups,the first Protestants,over a hundred years before the Reformation,true brave Christians.By the way ,jus as with the King James Bible,Wycliffe didn’t translate it.His followers .the Lollards did it.It merely bears his name.

    What a wonderful blog this week.Making us contemplate first principles.Thankyou Pastor Don.

  2. After church when we talked that you have a blog I found it and read it and it is sad that people are so distracted and as you said people find time to watch tv but don’t find time to read bible daily. I love you blog
    God bless you and your family
    Latha

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