Poll Reveals Highest Rate of 'Scripture Disengaged' Americans

News Image By Sarah Holliday/Washington Stand April 19, 2024
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Look around at the world right now. There's a war between Russia and Ukraine, and Israel and Iran stand at the edge of one. Currently, the U.S. is facing severe national security threats with the wide-open southern border. Millions of illegal immigrants are flooding in, and a surprising amount are harming and killing innocent American citizens.

Zero in even further and we see just how messy the public square is. LGBT ideology is infiltrating every aspect of society. Abortion is one of the top priorities of America's current presidential administration and the Democratic Party. We see death, promiscuity, and destruction promoted all around. And it begs so many questions.

1. What's Going On?

The American Bible Society (ABS) released on Thursday the first chapter of their State of the Bible USA 2024 report. For 14 years, ABS has recorded data that "highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement." Thursday's report, "The Bible in America Today," collected responses from 2,506 American adults from January 4 to January 23 on Bible usage and Bible reading.

John Farquhar Plake, chief program officer for ABC and editor-in-chief of the State of the Bible series, reacted to January's results with optimism, emphasizing the 4% increase in Gen Z adults who engaged with Scripture. And certainly, that is worth celebrating. However, the statistic seemingly brushed over by Plake and others is the fact that, out of 14 years of polling, January of 2024 marks the highest number of respondents ever to be "Scripture Disengaged."

Fifty-seven percent of all Americans, according to the poll, are Scripture Disengaged. The results revealed roughly 10 million Americans are part of that statistic. Now, I'm not saying this completely answers the initial question at hand. But as we analyze a report such as this, it stands to reason that it's no coincidence the more people disassociate from Scripture, the more discombobulated our society becomes.

So, what's going on? Judging by the state of "The Bible in America Today," there's a growing disregard for truth and a mockery of numerous biblical mandates. We see it all around us, and this report only affirms it. Even more notably, this is only the first chapter of the 2024 study with eight more to be released between May and December. I wonder, if January alone shows the highest recorded number of biblically disengaged Americans, what could follow?

2. What Can We Do?

Only the Lord knows what the rest of 2024 will bring, so while I posed the question, it's something we will all have to keep in our prayers. Thankfully, we don't have to wait and see what happens because we have the ability to act now.

It's easy to become discouraged with the evidence that America is straying further and further away from the Bible. As believers, we know the word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." In prayer to His Father, Jesus prayed for the church, "Sanctify them in Your truth; Your word is truth."

The Bible is incredibly significant. Believers know this. We've experienced the liberation from studying the inerrant word of God. Hebrews 4:12a declares, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword." It's truly remarkable when we see how God uses Scripture to actively work in our lives and the lives of others. Christians weren't meant to "live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God," as Matthew 4:4 conveys. Believers ought to live by these truths. Scripture is our guide, and it is our responsibility to share this guidance with a world in need.

What do we do? We continue preaching the gospel. We work toward spreading the good news to every nation, tongue, and tribe. But it's more than sharing the gospel, as the second part of the Great Commission encourages us to "make disciples of all nations." We study the word, and we help others study the word, so we're "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks" us "for a reason for the hope" we have (1 Peter 3:15). As David Closson, director of Family Research Council's Center for Biblical Worldview, shared with The Washington Stand, "It's more important than ever for churches to prioritize the teaching of the Word of God. It's more important than ever for churches to take their discipleship responsibilities seriously."

We must never give up, regardless of these poor statistics or cultural pushback. That's what we do. And we do this by fixing our gaze on the hope we have.

3. Where Is Our Hope?

I believe the Bible addresses everything we need to know to persevere through this earthly life as citizens of heaven. Scripture is clear that our time here will be difficult, with no promise we will not face persecution or suffering. Indeed, Scripture says we will face those harsh realities as part of living in a broken world. But what's crucial to understand is the Lord did not leave us without hope.

1 Peter 4:12-13 states, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed." How is it we can rejoice amid suffering? Because we have hope in Christ!

Our hope is secure because it's rooted in what Christ has done, not what we must do. But this hope, as sure as it is, easily gets clouded by our worries and woes. Romans 8:24b-25 says, "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."

The problems and chaos of the world make it hard to have hope. But that is precisely why the Apostle Paul clarifies we are not to have hope in what we see, but what we do not see. And this is also the definition of faith: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

Rather than sit in fear, we stand firm in the word and proclaim it with even more boldness. Our God is an awesome God. Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, already secured victory. 1 Corinthians 15:55 cries out, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

Closson emphasized, "Increasingly, we live in a society that is biblically illiterate and cut off from exposure to God's word, and our goal needs to be exposing people to the transforming power of Scripture." So, let us move forward with vigor, for we have no reason to be discouraged. 

Cover to cover, the Bible proclaims victory. And "thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere" (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Originally published at The Washington Stand

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