The Bible In Our World (Part 40)


Bible Literacy

By Don Ruhl

These articles have provided basic information to increase your literacy in the Bible as well as showing you its influence in our world. If you are biblically literate, you increase your success in all areas of life (Read Jos 1.7, 8; Psa 1.1–3).

Reading those passages, you will discover what the Lord told Joshua he had to do to be successful in anything that he did, and you will hear what David said we have to do for prosperity in all of life. The question is, do you read and meditate on the Scriptures daily? Further, do you go through the whole Bible annually?

Bible Literacy 

I have shown you a small sampling of the ways in which the Bible has influenced America, but there is one I have not mentioned yet—literacy.

Those who practice Joshua 1 and Psalm 1, find that they become biblically literate and acquire a worldview, which is God’s worldview. You increase your intelligence when you increase your knowledge of God’s word, that is, when you increase your biblical literacy.

What is literacy? Literacy is not only when you can read and understand what you have read, but people can make passing references to a person or an event, in this case, from the Bible, and you understand what they mean. Therefore, no further explanation is needed. You can continue with the discussion.

For example, many New Testament writers assumed the biblical literacy of their readers. “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (Jam 5.11). Notice that James assumed his readers, including us today, knew what he meant by “the perseverance of Job.” James did not explain himself. What did he mean by that expression? To answer, you have to know Job’s story in the Book named after him.

Consider especially the Book of Jude, which has numerous examples, but look at one verse alone, “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah” (Jude 11). What is the way of Cain? What is the error of Balaam? What is the rebellion of Korah? Jude did not offer the story of each of these men, but knew that his readers would get the point, because they were biblically literate. Do you know what he meant by each reference? If not, do you even know where to turn in the Bible to find the information?

Before moving on, think of a tactic that Jesus often used, “But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’”? (Mark 12.26). Jesus knew that the Sadducees were in doctrinal error because they had not read the Scriptures and thought about what they read.

If you read the whole Bible regularly, you can tell when someone has either not read the Bible, or has not read all the Bible, or has not read the Bible carefully. This motivated me to publish The Bible Meditator, first as a printed monthly paper, but now as a blog.

All cultures started with oral language, then it was written down. The English language was the same. However, the Bible provided the basis for the development of our language. In doing so, the Bible asked, or more importantly answered, the questions that many people have asked:

  • Who are we?
  • Why are we here?
  • What is our purpose?
  • What are we to do?

In 14th century England, John Wycliffe trained a group known as the Lollards who traveled through the country telling the stories of the Bible in English. This made the people hungry to read the stories for themselves. Why not do the same thing today? Share the stories of the Bible orally with your children and grandchildren and see if it creates in them the desire to read the stories.

Other Languages 

Translating the Bible has influenced not only the English language, but others also. In the 9th century Cyril and Methodius went to the Slavic peoples as missionaries. However, they had to create a written language for the people so they could read the Scriptures. These men created an alphabet based on Greek characters and so it became known as the Cyrillic alphabet, and even today the Russian alphabet is known as Cyrillic.

Foreign Nations Recognize the Bible’s Influence on America 

The public school system in the state of Donetsk, Ukraine has asked Eastern European Missions, a work among the Churches of Christ, to place Bibles and Biblical literature in all of their 1,188 public schools. You know of America’s history in relation to the Bible. Perhaps you have read Alexis de Tocqueville and his assessment of America in the 19th century,

Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

Religion in America.. .must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon

English: Photograph of a sketch of the French ...

English: Photograph of a sketch of the French author and traveler Alexis de Tocqueville. Undated, by an unknown artist. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

religious belief.

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

In 2002, David Aikman in his book, Jesus in Beijing, wrote of a lecture he heard from a Chinese professor from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and he said this about his time of study in America,

One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life is what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.

If Russia continues in the Scriptures, perhaps God shall bless them as He has America!


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