Jesus Haunted and Biblically Illiterate

  There is a common lesson drawn from slowly boiling a frog. It is said that if you place a frog in a pot of boiling water it will leap out, and for obvious reason. That is no place for a frog! However, place the same frog in a pot of water and then slowly raise the temperature of the water, the frog does not react but slowly boils to death.

The lesson suggests that if we are immediately thrust into a hostile environment, we would see the danger(s) and flee for our lives. Dangers are easy to see in this light; however, when placed in a “slow boil” we do not see the hazardous situation we are in until we are “boiled alive”. As Christians, the analogy emphasizes that we need to be aware of our environment and the slow and steady influences which undermine the principles of biblical Christianity.

Paul himself presented a similar warning in Ephesians 5.15-16:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (ESV)

One of the Christian’s greatest challenges since the first century AD has been to be aware of the cultural forces – religious or philosophical – which serve as the mores of society. Christians today face a similar dilemma.

The culture of the United States of America, traditionally “known” for its connection to Christian principles, has been eroding this long cherished relationship and has steadily shifted towards a secular society. This was not always the case as Robert Peterson concludes:

[T]he cornerstone of early American education was the belief that “children are an heritage from the Lord.” Parents believed that it was their responsibility to not only teach them how to make a living, but also how to live. As our forefathers searched their Bibles, they found that the function of government was to protect life and property. Education was not a responsibility of the civil government.[1]

A major source for education in reading and civil government was the Bible. Sadly, today our “school system” is far removed from any association from the Bible – some have even banned them from school grounds.

With a cultural climate of increased secularism on the rise, is it any wonder that we find ourselves in an environment where people study sport statistics more than the books of the Bible; or, that some are more obsessed to own everything Hannah Montana, than they are to “own” their Lord Jesus; or, that they know more about the Twilight Saga than they do about the Divine drama of the Scheme of Redemption?

Despite however this apparent distance between our culture and the Bible, the market is saturated with Bibles of every variety, commentaries, and books on Jesus. In fact, the nation still celebrates events in the life and ministry of Jesus – the Christmas (the birth of Jesus) and Easter (the resurrection of Jesus) Holidays. Are these traditional holidays enough?

“Religious” holidays are not enough to inform us about Jesus, especially when they are repackaged by marketing campaigns; and here lies the main problem. The problem is as Ben Witherington III states it:

What Have the Done with Jesus?In America we live in a Jesus-haunted culture that is biblically illiterate. Jesus is a household name, and yet only a distinct minority of Americans have studied an English translation of the original doc-uments that tell us about Jesus, much less read them in the original Greek. In this sort of environment, almost any wild theory about Jesus or his earliest followers can pass for knowledge with some audiences, because so few people actually know the primary sources, the relevant texts, or the historical context with which we should be concerned.[2]

The question before us is whether or not we will see that our culture is becoming less and less informed regarding Jesus and the Bible; furthermore, will we take the challenge of our times to inform our faith?

We must go everywhere proclaiming the Word (Acts 8.4), affirming that there is one savior and mediator to God (1 Tim. 2.3-6, Eph. 1.7-14), who wants us to have an abundant life (John 10.10), and through him be saved from the wrath to come on the Last Day (Acts 17.29-31, 1 Thess. 1.8-10).

The die has been cast, and we have a great and obtainable endeavor before us. We must continue to “go” with the Gospel and “make disciples of all nations” by immersion, and then continue to share with them all of Jesus’ teachings (Matt. 28.18-20). Only through study, reaching, and teaching can we bring more souls to the “knowledge of the truth” found in Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer (1 Tim. 2.1-4); so that, our neighbors will no longer be Jesus-haunted nor biblical illiterate, but informed and beneficiaries of the great redemption story of Divine love and grace found in the Gospel (Eph. 2.1-10; Acts 2.38).

We have a choice to make. Will we be the frog being slow-cooked to death, saying to ourselves, “it’s not that bad…, it’s not that bad..” until we are toast; or, will we see that we can do something about the culture around us – we can take the gospel to our culture and transform it. Choose today.


  1. Peterson, Robert A. “Education in Colonial America.” The Freeman 33.9 (September 1983). Online at
  2. Witherington, Ben, III. What Have They Done With Jesus? New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006; pg. 2. Emphasis added.