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Read Any Good Books Lately?

Who was Joan of Arc? If you say Noah's wife you would agree with 12% of Americans according to data reported at the website http://www.theologicalstudies.org/page/page/1572910.htm. In an article at this site, Michael J. Vlach says that researcher George Gallup points out so many Bibles have been printed in the United States "that even rough estimates of the total number published to date do not exist." Vlach reports on research on Bible reading and study habits between 1990 and 2000. In 2000, 92% of American households owned a Bible with the average number being three. However, owning a Bible is not the same thing as reading it. A Gallup Organization poll in October, 2000 reported that 59% of Americans said they read the Bible at least occasionally, down from 73% in the 1980's. Also, the percentage of Americans who read the Bible at least once a week declined — down from 40% in 1990 to 37% in the 2000 report. When the topic turns to study versus just casually reading the Bible, the numbers took a real nose dive, with only one in seven Americans reporting an involvement that went beyond just reading the Bible. Vlach quotes researcher Gallup as saying, "Despite the impressive statistics concerning Bible reading and study, it is apparent that ignorance about its contents is widespread." One piece of evidence Gallup offers for this conclusion is that only half of the adults interviewed nationwide could name any of the four gospels of the New Testament and just 37% of those interviewed could name all four of the gospels. I know we're 11 years distant from the survey done in 2000, but who is ready to say with a serious face that Bible reading, study, and knowledge in general is greater now than 11 years ago?

Why is there such widespread ignorance concerning the real content of the Bible? Some want to suggest the problem is that the Bible is unreadable, too difficult to understand, too complex and deep for the average person to "get it." Don't swallow that. The real problem is more simple — and painful. The real problem is that it very often goes unread! Two thousand years ago the apostle Paul revealed a simple secret to understanding both the origin and the contents of the Bible's inspired message by revelation

He made known to me the mystery (as I have written before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:3f). Did you catch it? The Holy Spirit revealed the Gospel in words — but like the words of any other book, the words of the Bible have to be read before they can be understood. I am not saying that you can easily or totally master and understand every thing you read in the Bible. I am saying you will never know or understand anything, even the simplest things the Bible says if you won't read and study it. There are bad books, and there are good books, and Americans buy and/or download and read them by the 10's of millions. But there is only one Good Book — God's Book, the Bible. Read any Good Book lately?

. . . they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily... . (Acts 17:11)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ