For years, I’ve been lamenting the biblical illiteracy—and general religious illiteracy—of the United States.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the stories that shape our culture, especially our children and youth. It used to be the case that the stories of the Bible had central place. But this is no longer true. In our post-Christendom entertainment-saturated age, the Bible (as well as much of Christian tradition) has been displaced along with the disestablishment of the church. Many other stories have taken center stage. For lots of reasons, it’s hard for the Bible to compete for attention.
While I certainly don’t think we need to limit ourselves to the Bible alone—I think the various stories of our culture are important texts for theological reflection—I do think the church needs to do a better job reintroducing the Bible as a collection of foundational cultural stories. If the church hopes to be relevant, we need to be raising people who are fluent in the “language” we speak.
Very recently, as I think about my own son, it occurs to me that I’m part of the very problem I’m called to address.
It’s so easy for me to get excited about sharing with him the formative stories of my youth: Star Wars and comic book adventures. He knows all about Spider-Man and the Hulk. I think he even gets the basic story arc of Anakin Skywalker.
But he’s already behind when it comes to the Bible. He knows a little about Jesus and is great at praying before meals. But he doesn’t really know the rich stories from which the faith of his baptism flow.
I’m part of the problem. Here I am, a pastor and teacher who understands the importance of stories in shaping our worldviews, and I’m failing already.
Well, I’m ready to change that. We’ll keep sharing the stories of Star Wars and comic books. But, starting tonight, I’m going to be much more intentional about sharing the stories of the Bible, too.
Parents, I’m humbly admitting that this stuff is easier said than done. But I’m also committing to making a change.