Let's get back to basics
As Christians, we like to believe that we are immune to trends. But the truth is that the church rises and falls upon the waves of what is popular and new just like the secular world does. Sometimes these shifts serve to advance us toward that which is new and fresh, but more than often they can distract and delay our spiritual walk.
One trend many have noted, as the church has rapidly modernized in the past 20 years, is a lack of Biblical literacy among congregants. No longer are church-goers expected to bring a Bible to church because all of the scriptures are projected for them. Scripture memorization has faded as an expected practice and expository preaching and Bible studies have become less and less prevalent. A 2015 article in Christianity Today by Ed Stetzer noted:
LifeWay Research found that while 67 percent of Americans believe heaven is a real place, 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there—including 1 in 5 evangelical Christians. More than half of evangelicals (59 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being—in contrast to the orthodox biblical teaching of the Trinity being three Persons in one God.
Thankfully God’s people are people of action and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, there will always be those brave few who call us all back to the narrow way.
Jen Wilkin is one of these truth-tellers. As the Women’s Ministry Director at The Village Church in Texas for many years, Jen began teaching women in a way that felt new, but was really quite traditional. She taught the women to study the Word for themselves and to value good and true theology. Instead of offering “10 quick tips to being a better mom,” she encouraged moms to go back to the scriptures and mine it for the answers they so desperately needed.
She was recently quoted as saying:
When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environment we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.
Ms. Wilkin is not alone in pushing for a shift back to Biblical literacy. The Gospel Coalition is a conglomerate of like-minded writers, pastors, and thinkers who are calling us back to the Word and their impact is growing by the day. One of their bestselling resources is the New City Catechism series, which helps churches and parents catechize children from a young age. This is definitely a far cry from Veggie Tales and the fluffy, low-content resources of the past. Another group seeing rapid growth is Risen Motherhood, a podcast and blog aimed at providing Gospel-based resources to moms looking for more than shallow answers to their deep questions.
Here at JPL Books we have our own collection of resources that point us back to Biblical literacy. Read Mark Learn by John Blanchard is aimed at the new believer and has been specifically written to get new Christians started on this exciting journey. It divides the Gospel of Mark into forty-five daily readings, with a page of easy-to-read notes on each passage, leading the reader through Mark's exhilarating record of Christ's life on earth.
For Such a Time as This by Wayne Braudrick & Jessica Anders points women back to the women in the Bible such as Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Mary and the unnamed mother of Samson, who changed their world and the course of history.
Through Evangelical Press we offer The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English for only $1.99 per copy! Why this separate issue of the Shorter Catechism? It is intended to encourage both young and old to read and memorize the sound teaching to be found here. The Catechism covers the teaching found in the Apostles Creed (included at the end of the Catechism), the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments.
No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, no matter which denomination or background, we highly encourage you to devote yourself to Biblical literacy. No sermon, video or podcast will ever replace the living, breathing Word of God, which is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Brad Rusticus