Easter is just a few days away, and churches will be filled to bursting with twice-a-year “Christians,” people that still feel some vague sense that they should go to church on Easter and at Christmas, even if they can’t quite articulate why, and don’t attend for most of the rest of the year.
That church attendance is in decline is no mystery. Sure, there are plenty of nominal Christians who attend church regularly for their own reasons—the social aspects, the opportunities for professional development and career advancement, etc.—who aren’t truly Believers, but since we cannot know the content of one’s heart, church attendance is a pretty good gauge for religiosity in the United States.
I live in the rural South, so there are churches on every street corner. There are tiny cinderblock buildings in the middle of nowhere with names like “First Church of the Holy Apostolic Prophecy” that look like tool sheds that have been converted into places of worship. There are decadent megachurches. There are churches that date back centuries, and churches that were planted a week ago.
Yet even here, Biblical illiteracy stuns me. Sure, I’m one of those guys who knows that something is “in the Bible,” even if I can’t always place exactly where it is (that’s what Bing is for). But when I write “Biblical illiteracy,” I mean that people lack a basic understanding of the simplest Bible stories.
I’ve related this anecdote elsewhere, but I’ll never forget teaching a philosophy class years ago in which we were discussing Danish Christian existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard famously argued that attempts to prove the existence of God rhetorically, logically, or otherwise were the philosophical equivalents of building the Tower of Babel—man’s Gnostic attempt to “reach” God, not to be close to Him, but to challenge God’s Supremacy.
The Tower of Babel is Vacation Bible School 101—really, it’s Sunday School 101. The Tower of Babel would be Track 2, Side 1 of The Old Testament’s Greatest Hits, if such an album existed.
Despite that, none of my students knew the story of the Tower of Babel. Even a young lady who was a very committed Christian did not remember the story, and I know her parents, at the very least, had taught it to her!
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