Video: Why You Don’t Read The Bible

Every year it’s the best-selling book in the world, but a lot of research says Americans don’t read their Bibles. Why not? Skye rejects the conventional explanations to reveal a deeper reason that involves Karl Marx, consumerism, and the shirt you’re wearing right now.

 

 

To read more about how we’ve made God and the Bible into a consumable product, Get Skye’s book, The Divine Commodity.

 

 




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14 Comments

  • August 24, 2016

    Adam Desmond

    Excellent analysis, Skye. I also feel that “relevance” based versions of the Bible, like The Message, contribute to our seeing the Bible as something other than what it is, the back story of God’s interaction with man. Ironically, by interpreting the text into a more “contemporary idiom” rather than faithfully translating the text to communicate the original message of the author to the original audience, we alienate readers to the true meaning of the Bible. Commentary is the right place to apply the truth in scripture.

  • August 24, 2016

    Justin Wallace

    This is fantastic. I’m glad you’re actually talking about the fact that most Christians do not read the Bible. I would just add a secondary spin on the idea of alienation. I think most of us who have learned to preach over the past 20 years have been taught to be spectacular. What I mean is this. You want to parse the Greek words or Hebrew words, you have to look at the 4th layer under the surface or you have to connect the dots that run throughout all of scripture. And what I think that’s saying to the every day Christian sitting in the pew is that this Bible study and teaching stuff should be left to the professional Christians and in turn this alienates everyone else from engaging Gods Word and believing that through the HS God can reveal Himself and His amazing story and truth to anyone and everyone everywhere at all times. That’s just been my experience with so many every day chrriatians. They do not feel like they can engage Gods Word in a full and life changing way. Thoughts?

  • August 24, 2016

    William "Bill" Batson

    Very interesting video about why people don’t read their Bible’s. I had a conversation with a young man the other day about the fact that I was having a difficult time being consistent with my daily Bible reading. He stated that he did not read the Bible because he didn’t like to read. He is a man who is an auto mechanic. I told him that I was not one who was very good at reading but have learned that it is something I need to do.

  • August 24, 2016

    Jase Miller

    Great insights, Skye. Your thoughts on alienation reminded me of a personal story about studying History as a kid. I had two history teachers in high school who were extremely animated (passionate is probably the right word) about European history. Their passion was contagious and engaging and that continues to impact my life and interests today. I also had several American history teachers who said things like, “You just have to know this information; it’s required by the state.” Their LACK of interest in their own subject was also contagious. Decades later I discovered the Icelandic Sagas, which are essentially family histories (typically told colorfully and poetically), and I’m beginning to see what might be a revival of this form of storytelling in contemporary ethnographies and films.

    In light of this, I wonder about the impact a significant number of people have on fueling the alienation you talk about here. I’m thinking of those who say, “The Bible is an instruction manual,” (and similar reductionistic claims), and also those who have come to see History and context as a subject to master rather than a story we’re all taking part in. It’s as if many think God and the Bible are tools to control our fears. Your book “With” addresses that dynamic really well. That kind of thinking surely fosters that alienation.

    What I want to explore further is how we can take steps to push against this alienation, and find examples of people or organizations that are helping that happen. Appeals to the value of history and context may not carry much weight in a “me now” culture, so there must be other ways to inspire change. Still, I am seeing what I think is an encouraging revival of interest in family stories in some parts of our culture (e.g. recent films about immigration), though there’s also a temptation to rewrite those histories to avoid uncomfortable truths. Anyway, thanks for prompting some thoughtful reflection today…

  • August 24, 2016

    Stan Risner

    “Dumbing down” our need for the nourishment obtained in our spirit, that can only be received and processed by the diligent study and thoughtful obedience to the revelation of Scripture, can only come from an independent, rebellious culture. So, how’s that working for us…?

  • August 24, 2016

    Justin

    Thanks for this video, Skye. It reinforces my thinking that your average church youth group would benefit more from a historical and cultural study of the Bible than one more round of “Psalms or Taylor Swift lyrics?”.

    BTW, when I attempted to leave myself a reminder to watch this video, Siri turned “Skye Jethani” into “Skagit Tony”.

  • August 24, 2016

    Ron Bryant

    Only when I immersed myself in an extended study of the Gospels did I learn to see the local church through they eyes of Jesus rather than Jesus through the eyes of the local church. Suddenly Jesus became much bigger than the box in which I had learned to place him, and he became worthy of my worship and affection in ways I had never experienced before. I suppose you could say he became whole to me, and I started to see myself in the story as one of his disciples. We pull out certain verses for the value they appear to bring to a problem we are facing or as the basis for a good sermon, making the Bible like fast food that meets a need and allows us to get onto other things in our busy lives.

  • August 24, 2016

    Cliff Hall

    So much of modern Christian “dysfunction” (IMHO) in Bible reading is this: when is the last time your pastor, from the pulpit, on Sunday morning, TOLD you to read your Bible? Not just in a legalistic way, but relating his/her joy in engaging the scriptures, telling you where you fit into the Biblical narrative, encouraging you with how your spiritual life will grow when you yourself engage the scripture. Has he/she communicated their real concern with whether or not you read the Bible? Or do they just assume you must be reading it if you’re showing up on the weekend? Have they resigned themselves to the fact that the only scripture you’re getting is what they’re giving to you, so they better give it well? Have you been issued a challenge/instruction to read the Bible or have you only received a great message about a scripture you may or may not have read? Have you – gasp! – been rebuked, however gently, for not reading the Bible? When our leaders effectively and fearlessly lead, then maybe some change will happen. … And, no, I am not a fundamentalist! 🙂

  • August 25, 2016

    Matthew Quick

    Thank you Skye! I like the analysis and reasoning behind your explanation. However, in my personal experience, I think it has a lot more to do with conviction. Although the Bible wasn’t given to us by God solely for conviction, or, “reproof” as 2 Timothy 3:17 puts it in the ESV, many people see it as a book only to tell them what they can and cannot do. I believe that the culture we’re in looks at Christianity as all other religions — trying, not trusting. If one were to truly understand the Christian religion, that we are saved by grace through faith and no longer condemned, he would read his Bible more realizing that the reproof in the Bible was for his own well-being, not for his condemnation. The Bible would be truly a book to get us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). What I am saying is, if one truly understands Christianity, he will rejoice in conviction realizing that it leads to his own sanctifacation, and therefore reads his Bible yearning to be convicted and also to gain in relationship with Christ. People don’t like conviction, and because of this they don’t read the Bible. This is why you have so many people exclaiming that the Bible is just a book telling you what you can and can’t do. My reply to that statement is this: Yes, the Bible does tell you what to do and what not to do. The Bible is much more than that, but it does contain commandments, but praise God! He gave us instruction to lead us and not leave us astray in this chaos. In conclusion, I think the reason people don’t read the Bible is because they do not want to be reproved. This is just what I have seen in my personal walk. Let me know what you think 🙂

  • August 26, 2016

    Dawn lamb

    skye! I always like reading your stuff and listening to you… But I think people don’t read the BIBLE cause of TIME! I think that cause of all the distractions in our daily life. Not TIME to even sit quiet and wait for GOD to talk to us. I am guilty of this too. I spend way to much time on the internet!!! Than there is our cell phone’s….TV!! We entertain ourself to death all day and work too… I know better and I do it too!! Just saying… Dawn

    • August 26, 2016

      admin

      Dawn- I hear this explanation a lot. I think it’s more of an excuse than an explanation. As you admit, “I know better and I do it too!” We all have enough time to read the Bible, we just don’t make it a priority which is another way of saying “I don’t really want to read the Bible, but I feel bad about it…just not bad enough to change anything.” Behind our use of time is our values. If we really felt engaging Scripture was critical to our lives/faith, we’d find the time. -Skye

  • August 27, 2016

    Not Important

    Thanks for your interesting thoughts, however, (although I have never done this before in such a forum), I feel led that I need to share a different perspective.

    I believe that people don’t read because they don’t have a deep desire after knowing and experiencing GOD. Our reading should not be, not will it be lasting unless it is driven by a deep hunger in the Spirit to know this unfathomable FATHER, KING and COUNCILLOR (the HOLY SPIRIT) in ever exceeding revelation through our lives.

    Bible study is presented as a “thing to do”… a Chore, a Challenge, a Race to see who can plough through this Book in a year, in stead of a response to the LORD’s invitation: “Call unto ME and I will answer thee and show thee great and Mighty things, thou knowest not”.

    The Kingdom of GOD is driven by Love for the KING in contrast with the old covenant which was driven by the law. There is a huge difference between me vacuuming the house because my mother said so (chore) and if I do it out of my love for her and to bless her.

    I read, not to simply to gain more of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” but to Drink from the River of LIFE that flows from the THRONE of GOD. JESUS made a very crucial statement that cornered me on this matter: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭5:39-40‬ ‭ESV‬‬ . It is about coming to HIM to have LIFE. Most people “know the stories” but don’t know HIM, because the emphasis is not put there…

    Paul cries out “That I might know HIM”.. Moses: “that I might know THEE” & “Show me your Glory”
    Of the disciples were said by the Pharisees: ““Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬,
    What shall I say about Abraham, David, Daniel, the list goes on and on. Loving HIM, Seeing HIM and desiring more of HIM.

    A wise man of GOD once told me: “Grow the grass, and the sheep will automatically come to feed”.

    The Words I have spoken to you are SPIRIT and they are LIFE” — JESUS. I have come that they might have LIFE and have it abundantly — JESUS.

    GOD Bless you abundantly as you touch the lives of thousands.

  • August 29, 2016

    Nithin Thompson

    Love this. And it has me thinking. I’m on the pastoral staff of a mega-church that strives to have relevant teaching and encourage people to engage with God and the Scriptures. I think we live in the tension of using the Bible as a commodity (here are some practical ways you can deal with anger) and offering a ravishing vision of who God is (Racial Reconciliation is only possible through the cross of Christ). I’ve seen both have a positive effect on different people. Some people come for the commodity side, but end up getting drawn in closer to the bigger vision. I’m not sure if I have the answer for how they can be reconciled, but most people in our culture, including Christ followers, have the attitude of what’s in it for me, when they come to church, and we try to meet them there and then pull them into the bigger story. We have a lot of great stories of God doing that in people’s lives, but also folks that stay in the what’s in it for me bubble. We try to move people to the next step in their journey. Thanks for these thoughts Skye, really helpful.

  • September 11, 2016

    Joel Zehring

    Psalm 119 is a master-class in how to value the Bible. David puts high value in reading the Scripture (“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”), and he puts high value in expressing the Scripture through his actions and words (“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.”).

    All Christians, especially in the US, share this in common: we don’t yet love and value the Bible for all it’s worth.

    One strategy I’m leveraging to build up my appetite for the Bible in my own life: reading large quantities of the Bible each week in preparation for a weekly conversation with an accountability partner who is doing the same thing. We read about 30 chapters per week and ask each other “Did you finish the reading and hear from God this week? What are you going to do about it?”

    This is from a discipleship plan called “Life Transformation Groups” from Neil Cole: https://www.cmaresources.org/article/ltg