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Britain ‘knows little about the Bible’ July 1, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible.
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Thats a surprising headline- NOT!

An initial note about a report that I have some connection with. The Biblical Literacy Survey has been exploring the extent of the Bible knowledge in Britain today. It is reported in the Independent here. Some of its headlines are

  • Figures such as Abraham and Joseph were a source of puzzlement and it was rare to find anyone who could name the Ten Commandments
  • 57 per cent of people knew nothing about Joseph or his brothers despite the hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
  • 60 per cent were ignorant of the story of the Good Samaritan.

David Wilkinson comments ‘a good grounding in the stories and characters of the Bible was essential to understanding history and culture because so much of art, music and literature was bound up with religious themes’

It’s an idea very close to my heart as I believe that our practice in children’s and youthwork is largely based on calling children and young people back to a faith they already know about. Since this pool is getting smaller we will have to explore again what it means to be involved in evangelism and discipleship with those who have little or no previous Bible knowledge or experience of Christianity. (They are what mission shaped church refer to as ‘unchurched’ – a term I find perjorative!)

So are we content to work with those who already know and use approaches that call them to appropraite faith or will we go on the long journey to discover new ways to share the good news. I wonder who is doing that already and can share lessons for the rest of us?



1. Alison - July 5, 2009

Have you seen the film Year One? I found it interesting because to understand a lot of the storyline, you’d had to have read Genesis 1-18 (or at least have heard some of the stories). I wondered how many people in the cinema actually knew the biblical stories underlying the film (some jokes were only funny if you understood the context!), and why actors such as Jack Black had chosen to do a film like that.

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