USA (MNN) – The American Library Association’s annual list of frequently challenged books places the Bible alongside a transgender picture book and the novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
These books are among the top 10 most challenged, with users objecting to the Bible’s presence in libraries and schools over its “religious viewpoint”, in other words, the challenge was brought because of a perceived violation of ‘church and state’. The ALA pointed out that they do not oppose having Bibles in public schools, only that there were objections filed, mainly by parents (2,535).
Most of the books on the list are quite different in content from the Bible. In fact, over the last decade, the ALA said it received reports of over 5,000 challenges to books, with “sexually explicit” material cited the most often (1,577 times) as a reason for an objection.
Why is the Bible on this list at all? Biblica-The International Bible Society’s CEO, Carl Moeller says, “As Bible believers, as Bible readers, we should recognize that the Bible makes some pretty audacious claims against a culture like the one we currently live in. It’s not surprising to me that people who have no understanding of what the Bible’s true message (of love and redemption) is all about, look at it as a controversial book.”
In fact, he says the debate surrounding God’s Words used in public spaces should be expected. ”It can’t be anything else BUT a controversial book. It penetrates deeply into people’s lives and it convicts them. We all know that conviction of sin doesn’t always produce immediate joy and love. Sometimes it produces a great deal of anger and frustration until the Holy Spirit works in that beautiful way and brings people to Christ.”
Controversy surrounds issues like the Target boycott, transgenderism, bathroom bills and the like; a lot of the Christian response has been documented in social media…and it looks angry. Cultural engagement? Well…yes and no, says Moeller. “Culturally speaking, we’ve lost our way in influencing our culture. To get angry at that culture, to be surprised at the non-Christian response of non-Christians is a little bit nonsensical.”
Biblica is helping churches reignite their passion for the Bible, so they can read and live God’s Word together. Nothing has more impact on a person’s spiritual growth than regular, sustained engagement with the Bible.
Here are some interesting facts and figures as mentioned by Biblica-IBS:
- In the U.S., the number of occasional Bible readers has fallen around 20 percent in a single generation. That’s like 700 people giving up reading the Bible every day. (Source: Gallup)
- 9 in 10 churchgoers say they need their churches’ help understanding the Bible, yet only 1 in 5 say their church provides in-depth Bible study. (Source: REVEAL)
- If this trend continues, by 2040, two-thirds of all Americans will have no meaningful relationship with the Bible.
The remedy starts in the heart, says Moeller. “The problem is, even in Christian circles, the Bible is revered, but not read. When we actually sit and ingest, eat deeply of the feast that God has given us in His Word, we are changed. We think about the world, we think about God, we think about ourselves differently. That’s the way people are changed.”
Moeller suggests two steps to engage with a cultural shift on a different level: Pray and read the Bible.
“If I orient my heart in prayer to letting God speak to me, and I read a reader-designed Bible, it allows me to read long portions of scripture without being tired, without stopping and constantly encountering breaks in the text. We actually begin to ingest Scripture deeply.”
When you have a really good meal, you talk about it. Talking about it means engaging with others…and sharing your enthusiasm for the experience you just had. That can be a whole new opportunity for another meal with the person with whom you’re speaking.
Word of mouth works when it comes to changing culture, one heart at a time. From community Bible reading campaigns to biblically-based AIDS prevention for children and youth, Biblica-IBS is committed to helping people have a life-changing encounter with Scripture. Click here for more ways you can get started.