By Matt Allen
On Thursday 18 April, Christian Union New York invited Chuck Stetson to speak on Biblical Literacy. With George Barna’s research showing that only 7 percent of Americans have a biblical worldview (whereby the Bible is the primary resource through which one understands the world), Stetson took the evening to tell his audience what can be done to see that number increase and why this endeavor is so important.
The area in which Stetson has seen most success has been in public schools. He co-wrote a textbook on the Bible now used in hundreds of highschools across the U.S. and around the world, and did so by pointing to the necessity of students knowing the Bible should they wish to understand Western literature and culture. For example, a conservative estimate suggests Shakespeare makes 1200 references to the Bible. What are students to make of these references or the numerous others used throughout the rest of Western history, music, art and culture if they don’t know the Bible? By asking this question, Stetson has won a great deal of support from secular institutions and media.
Stetson explained that one key to this success and to getting people to take an interest in the Bible in general is to show them how it relates to their lives practically. Stetson exhorted his audience to show people in their own circles that the Bible can help them in their need. For example, our society has a huge issue with depression and suicide in this moment in time. “The Bible has the best wisdom on suffering and hope,” said Stetson, “Why doesn’t anyone know about it?”
Relatedly, whether people recognize it or not, the Bible is the foundation of Western values and institutions. “Do you like compassion?” Stetson asked one attendee. “Yes,” she replied. “How Biblical of you,” he responded. Compassion is one of the most highly valued virtues in our society, yet, as Stetson pointed out, there was no Greek word for “compassion” until the writing of the New Testament. Click to Tweet Jesus truly turned the world upside down with this message of compassion, and people take an interest in the Bible when you help them to see that.
Finally, Stetson emphasized the importance of being winsome. It’s not effective to convince people you’re right if they won’t listen to you. In making this point, Stetson explained that “Jesus was asked 184 unique questions in the four Gospels, and only answered 3 of them. But, he also asked 307 questions.” Rather than trying to score points in a debate, a good way to win people to your side and take an interest in the Biblical view on matters is to ask good questions.
As Stetson puts it, “We need another reformation today. Luther brought people back to the Bible.” To see our culture redeemed, the Bible needs to be rediscovered. Click to Tweet With tips such as those outlined by Stetson, we can all play our part in making the Bible attractive through our conversations with those seeking truth, hope, and resolutions to societal problems. The Bible has all the answers - let’s let people know about it.