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Why Christians Don’t Read the Bible

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Yes, you read the title correctly. Research indicates that most Christians don’t read the Bible regularly. Here are their reasons:

  • I don’t understand it. It’s intimidating. This is usually tied to difficulties comprehending the language the Bible is written in. The language problem is often associated with the use of older translations like the King James Version. The use of a contemporary English version goes a long way toward addressing this problem.
  • It’s boring. Some folk begin reading the Bible with the best of intentions then hit Numbers and their days are numbered! Admittedly there are portions of the Bible that a first time reader may find tiresome or uninteresting. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Bible, in large chunks, is anything but boring. If it was, it’s unlikely that it would have informed and undergirded the major themes and stories that define culture and life today.
  • I don’t need to. The thinking behind this reason is that the pastor/priest is better equipped to read and explain the Bible, so why not just let them do it. This line of thinking is sometimes tied to the struggles that people experience in interpreting the Bible and the recognition that we need theological help. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for us to use Bible reading guides, commentaries, or other helpful resources.
  • I don’t know if I can trust it. Was the world really created in six 24 hour periods? Doesn’t science prove that some of the things in the Bible aren’t true? Why are there so many conflicting interpretations? These and many other questions raise doubts or skepticism. Not understanding the different genres of the Bible and attempts to read all of it literally may also cultivate confusion that leads to distrust.
  • I don’t have time. This reason tops the list. I personally think it’s a smokescreen for the real reasons why Christians don’t read the Bible. After all, we’re rarely too busy to surf the internet, watch television or go to the coffee shop. The fact is we think we have better things to do and choose to prioritize our time for what’s most important to us.

And the unspoken reasons that Christians don’t admit to:

  • It should serve my needs. In a culture of consumerized Christianity many people think the Bible should primarily provide guidance on how to behave or what to do in life. Outside of some favourite texts and passages the Bible doesn’t do much of this. It is not a user-friendly owners manual for successful living. So when it doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves, we don’t read it.
  • It doesn’t really matter. In their heart of hearts many Christians secretly wonder if reading the Bible makes a difference. They look around and see nice people who aren’t Christians and Christians who aren’t nice people. So they say to themselves, “Why should I read the Bible?”
  • I’m fine thank you very much! Ultimately we may shy away from reading the Bible because we try to sustain our lives in our own strength. Our independent spirits don’t want to confess the need to be dependent on God. Pride, lack of obedience, an unwillingness to submit, and a skewed view of God; in short, sin, results in a Bible reading disconnect.
  • It’s work. “Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull or boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” R. C. Sproul.

There you go. Can you confirm or refute the reasons? Would you add or subtract anything from the list? Have your say . . .

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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8 thoughts on “Why Christians Don’t Read the Bible

  1. Tom Lassiter • Many times, I have asked Christians if they eat physical food as often as they feed on spiritual food, would they still be alive. In order for the body to grow and function properly, one must have a steady and healthy diet. It is the same spiritually. If we are not feeding daily on the manna of the Word of God, we cannot expect to grow or function as God intends.

  2. How about that the bible shows us the truth about ourselves and what we need to do to walk with Jesus Christ. However, some of us are not willing or ready to accept the truth so we ignore it by ceasing or refusing to read the word.

  3. Or that we are just afraid of falling short of what it says so we just don’t bother to open the pages …

  4. Many from a lack of hunger and let the pastor tell me Sunday. And we are surprised at the ineffectiveness of the modern day Church.

  5. How about people (who are the big majority) who cannot read and understand? Most Christian teachers assume that because they can do that, then everyone can. Not so!

  6. The Bible (the Word and words of God) can be trusted implicitly. It’s the commentaries that sometimes can not be trusted (at least not blindly)! The things that others claim that the Bible says are not always true, but rather issue from a wrong dividing of the Word ……………. “private interpretation”. A knowledge of the whole Word is necessary in order to distinguish whether what you are reading about the Word, or hearing another teach from the Word, is truly the Word of God, or just some man, or woman’s opinion of what it says.

  7. I appreciate Christians who address this most important topic. Next month (April) will mark my 42nd year as a Christian. I am going to make a soul searching statement for Christians to ponder.

    After listing all the reasons why Christians neglect reading and meditating upon God’s Word, it all comes down to how much are we really hungry for God. If we are truly hungry for God, then we will be hungry for God’s Word. JESUS said “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” With that statement, JESUS cut through all the excuses and got right to the deep rooted inner core of our true affections.

    THE SHOCKING TRUTH!

    In a recent Gallup Poll, 41% of Americans who call themselves Born-again Christians said they “rarely read” or “never read” the Bible. 12% say they “read” the Bible monthly. 10% say they read the Bible less than monthly. Another statistical research showed that less than 10% of professing Christians have ever “read” the entire Bible. If these studies are even close to being accurate, it is a startling revelation of the “TRUE CONDITION” of the Church today in America!

    Christians in other countries where religious freedom is greatly suppressed, and who do not have Bibles, fervently pray for bibles. If they are fortunate enough to receive a Bible, they count it as their most prized possession. It all boils down to the depth of our Spiritual hunger.

    When our natural body is hungry, we feed ourselves. Likewise, when we are Spiritually hungry, we feed ourselves from God’s Word.

    Sadly, the Churches today are filled with people who attend Church faithfully, but are greatly lacking in their hunger for God.

    I am not sharing what I have just shared, without have a great deal of understanding on a very personal level. Because of my hunger and great love for God’s Word, in the past several years, I have written 12 articles (which consist of 19 pages) on how “VITAL” it is for Christians to read and meditate upon God’s Word.

    Also, I have personally discovered that when we are truly hungry for God’s Word and His truth, that God will open up the revelation of His Word to us with a continual degree of greater understanding.

  8. In Joshua 1:8 the Lord commands us to “…Meditate on it (Scriptures) day and night…” Meditating requires one’s complete focus and attention and this takes time. If we really loved the Lord it would be an honor to spend time with Him in the Word. I looked up the definition of meditation.

    Here is one definition: “To keep the mind in a state of contemplation; to dwell on anything in thought; to think seriously; to muse; to cogitate; to reflect. To contemplate; to keep the mind fixed upon; to study.”

    Bottom line, we want to have it both ways, neglecting God’s instructions on how to live to honor Him, and (He promises to make us prosperous in every aspect of our lives) and at simultaneously have Him cater to us by answering every prayer we lift up to Him. And when he “doesn’t” we accuse of Him of being aloof and uncaring. The nerve of us! Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. So are the majority of modern Christians.

    Brethren, let us stop playing games. Let’s decide today, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

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