According to a recent LifeWay research study, 87% of American households own a Bible, but more than half of Americans have read little to none of it.

If we have access to Bibles, then why are we struggling to read and understand the Scriptures? Skye Jethani shares his thoughts on the crisis of Biblical illiteracy in America.

“Those who think that the only reason people don’t read the Bible because they don’t have access, it’s kind of absurd. Now of course with digital technology; the internet, smartphones, etc., anybody can read the Bible in any language, anytime, anywhere. Unlike some parts of the world where access is still a problem, any English-speaking part of the world is not among it. We have plenty of access.”

“We have created more resources to learn the Bible more excessively than ever before in history, and yet, the statistics show that every year the Biblical literacy of people, including those within the church, is going further and further down.”

Skye believes the real reason people don’t engage the Bible is because they don’t see how it’s relevant.

“A lot of contemporary Christians are asking, ‘Why do I need to know what happened in Israel 5,000 years ago in a desert?’ They don’t see how that relates of what’s going on with them right now and that’s a problem.”

“We just kind of pull these little quotes or verses here and there that make us feel better. It’s kind of sentimental and it’s therapeutic, but the actual understanding of the Bible – we think that doesn’t matter. It’s no different than needing to know where my shirt was made; it’s just irrelevant, it happened a long time ago. No matter how much access you give people to that information – they’re not going to engage it because they don’t care and they don’t see why it’s relevant.”

He explains why taking the time to read and understand the context of the Scriptures is so important as we seek to engage God’s Word and apply it to our daily lives.

“If you don’t know the backstory for the Bible, if you don’t understand the backstory of Israel, then you don’t understand the meaning of Jesus being the Messiah of Israel. If you don’t understand the meaning of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, then you don’t have a grounding for even understanding the gospel.”

One of the primary ways God speaks to us is through His Word. As believers, we have a responsibility to read and understand Scripture as not only relevant, but also critical to our life and faith journey.


Skye Jethani is an author, speaker, consultant and ordained pastor. He also serves as the co-host of the popular Phil Vischer Podcast, a weekly show that blends astute cultural and theological insights with comical conversation.

The crisis of Biblical illiteracy in America - Skye Jethani

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