Tuesday, April 29, 2008

USA is among most ‘Bible-literate’ nations

From VATICAN CITY via Reuters, it is reported that the United States of America is among the world's most 'Bible-literate' nations. While this comes as no real surprise to Cranmer, the report records the Spaniards, French and Italians as being ‘among the most ignorant about what the "good book" says’:

A poll carried out in nine countries - the United States, Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Spain and Poland - also showed Americans were most willing to donate money to spread the message of the Bible.

The poll for the Catholic Biblical Federation interviewed Christians and non-Christians ahead of a synod of Roman Catholic Bishops on the Bible due to be held at the Vatican in October.

Most respondents in the poll, which was presented at the Vatican, were Christian. Except for in the United States, Britain and Russia, most of the Christians respondents were Catholic.

Asked if they had read a phrase from the Bible in the past 12 months, 75 percents of American respondents said yes, while between 20 percent and 38 percent of respondents in the other eight countries said yes.

The lowest were Spain with 20 percent, France with 21 percent, Italy with 27 percent, and Germany with 28 percent.

Results were similar when respondents were asked if they had read a book with a religious theme in the past 12 months. Fifty-eight percent of Americans said yes. Poland was second with 50 percent and the other countries came in between 22 and 35 percent.

The poll, taken by the GFK-Eurisko research group, showed Americans prayed the most (87 percent) and the French the least (49 percent).

Americans, Britons, Dutch, Germans, Spaniards, Poles and Russian tended to pray "with my own words" whereas Italians and French tended to recite prayers they had memorized.

Germany and the Netherlands had the highest percentage of respondents who said they believed the Bible was not divinely inspired but just "an ancient book made up of legends, historical facts and teachings written by man".

The majority of respondents in all countries believed it was either the direct word of God or inspired by God.

Americans were the largest group who said they had a Bible at home (93 percent) and the French were the lowest (48 percent).

The French were the most opposed to teaching the Bible in schools whereas the Americans were split about evenly.

Poland had the highest percentage of those who said they attended religious services regularly (91 percent), followed by the United States with 77 percent and Russia with 75 percent.


Cranmer need not patronise his readers and communicants with religious insights, denominational observations, or perceptions of nations, but shall leave them to draw their own conclusions. He shall, however, just mention that the vast majority of people in the UK cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments, do not know the birthplace of Jesus, and have almost no understanding of the Christian foundations of their own system of government.

At her coronation Her Majesty recognised the authority and supremacy of Holy
Scripture: ‘This is the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the royal law. These are the lively oracles of God.’ She promised to ‘maintain to the utmost of her power the Laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.’

But then she never reckoned with the death of education, uncontrolled and uncontrollable mass immigration, or being a vassal state of a secular and godless European Union.

18 Comments:

Blogger botogol said...

>>the vast majority of people in the UK cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments<<

Perhaps that's not so bad when you consider that there is considerable *biblical* confusion here:
- the commandments are given in two places Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21, and the two lists are not the same.

(plus there is another distinct (but nevertheless overlapping) set of 10 commandments in Exodus 34)

- the "10" 'ethical' commandments actually consist of 14 instructions which are grouped, emphasised and interpreted differently by different demoninations and religions

Looking at the conventional anglican 10 you can see that 4 are merely instructions concerning religious practice..
- one god
- no idols
- no blasphemy
- sabbath

Leaving just 6 truly ethical commandments:
- honour parents
- no murder
- no adultery
- no stealing
- no false witness
- no coveting

Maybe people are remembering 5/6 ?

Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments

29 April 2008 at 13:01  
Blogger Ben Stevenson said...

Bogotol,
Your ethics are wrong if you think that are relationship to God is not an ethical matter.

"Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." -- Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)

Jesus' summarises the first four commandments as "Love the Lord your God" (quoting Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus summarises commandments 5-10 as "Love your neighbor as yourself" (quoting Leviticus 19:18).
Jesus' view (and therefore, the view that disciples of Jesus should have) is that our relationship with God is the most important commandment, not "merely instructions concerning religious practice" which have little to do with morality.

29 April 2008 at 13:13  
Blogger botogol said...

but Ben, I don't believe in god !

However I do believe in morals and in ethics.

The difference here is that the 'six' I highlighted as ethical are universal values, shared by all human societies, while the 'four' religious, well clearly they are bolt on and will vary from religion to religion, place to place, denomination to denomonation (viz different catholic intepretation of the question of 'idols')

29 April 2008 at 13:39  
Blogger botogol said...

btw, I apologise for the word 'merely' which wasn't appropriate.

29 April 2008 at 13:45  
Anonymous vincent mckenzie said...

Faith is what believers have. They believe in God. The Bible is a nightmare to read and understand, but a message comes through and inspires faith in different ways to different people. What brings an atheist to this website to blather on about scripture? If you believe in banana sandwiches, then fine, but piss off else where and bore somebody else. I don't understand the fanatical stance that some non believers take, Morals and ethics are great and I'm pleased for you.

29 April 2008 at 13:54  
Blogger Ben Stevenson said...

I don't think it is ultimately that important how the commandments are grouped.

In terms of what true morality is - if God does exist, then true morality includes things like not having idols, not blaspheming - whether you or I agree or not. If God doesn't exist, these are unimportant.

Either the theist or the atheist view on the importance of these commandments does not ultimately reflect the real world.

29 April 2008 at 13:56  
Blogger Cranmer said...

If you believe in banana sandwiches, then fine, but piss off else where and bore somebody else.

Mr Mckenzie, Mr Mckenzie, Mr Mckenzie, all are welcome to His Grace's august blog, and enforcing their departure with urination is most uncalled for.

Any atheists who make a free-will decision to visit are undoubtedly unknowingly imbibling the water of eternal life.

29 April 2008 at 14:21  
Anonymous brotherjonathan said...

Never dispute the Bible with an American Southern Evangelical. They know that book inside and out.

29 April 2008 at 14:48  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The difference here is that the 'six' I highlighted as ethical are universal values, shared by all human societies,

You assert but do not prove. I do not see why these exhortations have any "ethical" component let alone that they are "universal".

I simply do not understand why you simply posit something and call it "ethical"....after all Pavlik Morozov was the epitome of "ethical" behaviour in the USSR

29 April 2008 at 15:52  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
your last two paragraphs are almost too painful to bare .

i am reminded of how much i yearned for one of those fake rolexes , it glistened it made my friends curious , it even told the time . But all too quickly it scratched and tarnished , the segments became loose and then once it was known as fake , i was as cheap as it was !!.

there are some who would dearly wish for the bibles supremacy to be got rid of , its curiosties ,its obscurities , its praise of the invisible !!.

we know have fake pricipals , like my rolex , they scratch and tarnish so much more than the real thing , a fake set of principals which we now seem to have purchased on credit to boot .

oh woe oh woe indeed to those who peddle in deciet , i am sorry that we were not able to keep our side of the deal with her majesty better , we may just have had a better and happier country .

29 April 2008 at 17:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

brotherjonathan said...
Never dispute the Bible with an American Southern Evangelical. They know that book inside and out.

Possibly. But in my experience, those who can quote sections of it verbatim rarely have an understanding of the meaning, and often quote it entirely out of context. Think of all those evangelical churches which don't allow the celebration of birthdays or wedding anniversaries just because none of the writers of the Bible chose to record any such events in the life of Christ (whether or not they happened - and for an idea of how silly that is, neither does it record him ever swimming, driving a car - you see where this is going, yes?).

I don't necessarily think it's as important to read the Bible regularly as to have an understanding of the context and how to apply the teachings to your own life.

I'm just not sure how the Vatican could measure that, though! Perhaps His Grace could preside over a more detailed quiz?

29 April 2008 at 19:34  
Anonymous najistani said...

"In all study of English literature, if there be any one axiom which may be accepted without question, it is that the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James version of the Bible." - Professor Gardiner cited at http://www.bible-researcher.com/mcafee4.html

I wonder to what extent the Bible has exerted a similar formative influence on other languages as it has on English? Could this be one of the reasons for the differences in 'Bible-literacy' between nations?

30 April 2008 at 00:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screw southern evangelicals.

I would be far more interested to know how much the Pope himself understands or even reads the Bible.

The god of the Bible is a vengeful and horrendously nasty piece of work, when moved to be so. Love has got nothing to do with the father our creator. Otherwise why does he give us Wars, Gordon Browns, fascist E.U.s, and earthquakes? My best guess is entertainment, but I am open to suggestions.

God or the Gods are not to be loved they are to be feared, and above all respected for what they are, not what mankind would like them to be.

This is the message of the Ten Commandments. They are just that COMMANDMENTS not requests. And you better not think for one second they are anything but, otherwise its 'made of stone' time for you and your innocent children.

Jews know their God/Gods. Christians just play at it, while largely relying on wishful thinking propagated by false profits and Popes. Which is why Gods chosen people still rule the world while Christians and others just think or hope they do. IMO.

I have not read my own volume of the sacred law for some time. But I am sure Cranmer, that anyone who has ever read the first 5 books even superficially, could not believe for one second that god is a reliably nice chap by even Pol-Pots standards.

But what do I know? Not very much at all, but it is still more then The Pope and The ABofC SEEM to understand.

Of course what the Pope and The ABofC understand and what they tell the great unwashed are not the same thing. If ever they are, the prose and presentation is so elitist, that only their ruling class masters could possibly really understand a word of it.

Atlas.

30 April 2008 at 04:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I wonder to what extent the Bible has exerted a similar formative influence on other languages as it has on English?

Martin Luther's translation had a similar effect on the German language and literature. I suspect St. Cyril bestowing an alphabet on the Russians may have been assisted in the expanion of Christian Faith from the Kiev Rus to the rest of the Russias

30 April 2008 at 07:06  
Blogger Ben Stevenson said...

Anonymous: "And you better not think for one second they are anything but, otherwise its 'made of stone' time for you and your innocent children."

Perhaps if you understood that no one is innocent, you may better understand why God seems harsh.

I'm sure Archbishop Cranmer's blog is an appropriate place to quote the Thirty Nine Articles

"...man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation..."

God's judgement seems harsh when people don't consider the fact that we deserve hell. But, God is loving - he offers us forgiveness:

"...We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings...
...[Jesus] came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin, as Saint John saith, was not in him..."

30 April 2008 at 09:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What brings an atheist to this website to blather on about scripture?"

Sometimes the over seriousness of the comic readers validates some ribbing, or pointing out the nonsense that is sprouted.

On a more elevated note, Cranmer is prone to a lot of common sense on various matters political and the like, which makes interesting reading.

30 April 2008 at 11:43  
Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Voyager

"You assert but do not prove. I do not see why these exhortations have any "ethical" component let alone that they are "universal"."

Precisely. And I'd agree that the suggested 'universality' is remarkably doubtful.

30 April 2008 at 18:44  
Anonymous steadmancinques said...

@anonymous
'The god of the Bible is a vengeful and horrendously nasty piece of work'
This observation was first made about 1850 years ago by a priest called Marcion. (AD 144). His answer was to totally suppress the Old Testament, and re-write the New, excising references to the Old.
Iraneus and Tertullian refuted Marcion's 'heresy', briefly in the following manner;

a) the Bible is a very complex, multi-layered document; it is also very old. The difficult passages need to be understood in the light of those which are easy to understand.

b) as the Bible is a multi-layered document, it should not be understood only in the literal sense; allegory, mythology and poetry also exist, and need to be employed to gain the fullest insights. Even then our understanding will only ever be partial in this life (through a glass, darkly). Human thought and language are both inadequate to understand and convey ultimate realities.

c) revelation is progressive; the problem lay, not with God, but with people. The early Israelites did not grasp the loving and merciful nature of God. God does not force understanding on us. Love, as everyone knows, can never be compelled.

d)as revelation is progressive, the OT can only be completely understood in the light of the New; the early passages have to be understood in the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

d) the unity of scripture is therefore affirmed. A by-product of this was the drawing up of lists of which books were considered sacred and inspired, known as the Canon of Scripture.
If provoked, I will bang on about those intertestamental books that Anglicans call the Apocrypha, but more properly should be referred to as deuterocanonical.
I am an Anglican, and not, and never have been, a Southern Baptist. Peace be with you.

1 May 2008 at 12:34  

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