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The Death of Biblical Literacy?

It has been reported that on an episode of the game show Jeopardy! earlier this year, the following clue was given: “This Bible book gives us the line ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’” The three contestants stared blankly ahead, unable to summon the correct answer: Psalms. I cannot independently verify this report, but it sounds about right.

I watched a little Jeopardy! back when I was a kid at home, and I always loved it when a Bible-related category appeared. It happened now and then, and it meant I would run the table on the category. In the few times I have watched the show in recent years, I have observed a general decrease in the frequency of Bible questions. This trend corresponds to the decrease in our society’s biblical literacy. Questions that difficult are simply beyond the pale. Too many blank stares are not great for ratings.

The decline of biblical literacy is connected also with a decline of theological literacy. These cultural trends have not left the church unscathed. As Pew Research, Lifeway Research, and many others have shown, self-designated Christians are, in general, in need of some basic instruction in the faith.

This is where the Center for Christian Studies steps in, to address the great need for such instruction and to equip leaders and teachers in churches. We continue to expand our resources and our reach, evident in some of the highlights over the past five months.

We continue to add to our collection of video resources, releasing three more series: “Introducing Christian Theology” (Stephen Lawson), “Story of the Old Testament” (Todd Hall), and “How We Got the Bible” (Keith Stanglin). The 50% subscription discount for churches and small groups will be going away soon as we add more to the collection, so be sure and subscribe now to lock in the low price for your congregation. See pricing here, and use the discount code VIDEOS23 at checkout. As always, you can view excerpts from these videos on our YouTube channel.

We launched our podcast, Theological Table Talk, in July, and we have released nine episodes so far. Our guests have included Carl Trueman, Mary Eberstadt, and Kyle Harper; we have discussed everything from Christian funerals to sacraments, political activism, biblical interpretation, and which is the greatest Led Zeppelin album, along with other important matters. Subscribe to Theological Table Talk on Spotify, Apple, or our YouTube channel.

In September, we published the newest entry in our adult education curriculum: John Mark Hicks, Transforming Encounters: Baptism, Assembly, and the Lord’s Supper. With this book, we launch our “Doctrina” series. Like our other books, it is ideal for use in Bible classes, small groups, or for individual study.

The Journal of Christian Studies 2/3, on ministry and ordination, was also published and mailed out to subscribers in September. It includes articles on the call of ministers, the qualities and job description of elders, and the theology of ordination and priesthood of all believers. Although every issue of JCS is intended for church leaders, this one especially should be in the hands of every minister and elder. If you missed it, fortunately, this and other back issues can be ordered from our website. But be sure to subscribe to the journal so you won’t miss the excellent issues coming in 2024.

Our live events and instruction continue to flourish. In the last few months alone, we have hosted the CCS – First Things Lecture with Kyle Harper, as well as a Table Talk on Christians and wealth. I have also consulted with and conducted seminars at churches on sexual ethics, engaged in teacher training over Zoom, and spoken at the Harding Lectureship on enhancing adult education in churches.

Finally, all of these resources—intended for the sake of biblical literacy and theological understanding—are made possible through so many selfless donors who have caught the vision for equipping the people of God in their knowledge of the faith and in works of service. Through God’s grace and such generous donors, we met our initial goal of $200,000 for the McNicol – Weed Endowment.

We have been blessed, but this is only the beginning. We want to increase our number of partners and supporters in this ministry. In order to continue this growth and produce the best resources for thoughtful Christians, we humbly ask for your support for this ministry to churches here and around the world. Please keep us in your prayers and consider giving—or continuing and expanding your gift—to the Center for Christian Studies.


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