The American Bible Society conducted a recent “State of the Bible” poll and found that the number of people self-reporting as “Bible engaged”- or people who see the Bible as the Word of God- is equal to the number of people who believe the Bible is a book of stories and advice written by man.
“Bible skeptics” are growing in number, especially in the 18 to 29 year old demographic range. According to the president of the society, that’s a concerning change. As ministers, we need to appreciate the perspective of members of all faiths and beliefs. Coming to an understanding of why skepticism is on the rise may be the first step in finding a resolution.
Skeptics today have been raised in a self-help era. They have been inundated with media messages about how life is lived on the other side of the globe. They have also drawn conclusions about violence, war, and poverty and human indifference to the challenges of others. They may therefore view certain portions of the Bible as merely good advice. The admonition not to kill, for example, appears to them as a fairly straightforward approach to living in a civilized society. The more esoteric, “treat others as you would want to be treated,” is also a wonderful way to face everyday life and challenges.
Whatever perspective you encounter, it is important to maintain understanding. When we disagree with others, the first step we need to take is to try to understand them. Rigidity makes us less amenable to other perspectives. When we get rigid, we shut down, which in turn shuts non-believers down.
We are challenged to come together during times when faith is questioned. Faith can help those who are without it, but only if they are open to it.