are they coming out literate?

College ministers don’t seem to think often enough about the “end result” of our impact on students. Yes, we’re trying to disciple them toward certain goals, but do we (for instance) ever ask Young Adult Ministers what they think is lacking in Christian college graduates?

One of the things they’d probably point to is biblical literacy.

How’s that going with your students? Not “Are they prepared to handle life situations biblically?” – many of us tackle that sort of thing, maybe both in large or small group settings. Not simply “Do they understand spiritual leadership?” or even “Are they familiar with Romans?” Today’s question is, Are they well familiar with the whole of the Scriptures?

I know there’s lots of ways we can benefit our students, and only a limited time to fit it all in. But shouldn’t biblical literacy fit somewhere near the top of the list?


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  1. The question that comes to mind when reading this is whether biblical literacy means “Familiar with the whole of scriptures” or “Able to read and interpret scripture well”.

    I can see arguments for both sides, and right now I’m not sure which trumps, but it seems to me the answer depends on which would enable students to follow Christ better (and that answer may vary from student to student or tribe to tribe)

  2. Good questions, Richard.

    Sorry if I wasn’t real clear. By “biblical literacy” here, I mean familiarity with the whole of Scriptures. When I hear complaints about it, that seems to be what people mean. I’d tend to call the other area you mentioned “handling the Scriptures,” interpreting/applying the Bible, hermeneutics, etc.. But that’s just how I’ve heard it referred to in the past.

    But as for the two sides, I definitely wouldn’t encourage an either/or. The point of this particular post was to encourage Biblical Literacy to be one of the aims of most college ministries (because it’s often lacking). But I’d certainly hope hermeneutics would be there as well – it’s uber-important, and if I had to pick one, I’d pick interpretation/application.

    But I don’t figure we have to just pick one. And in the average college ministry, I’d guess students are exposed more often to solid interpretation techniques (even if they’re just watching others do it) than they are exposed to unfamiliar passages, overviews of the OT and/or NT, arguments for biblical literacy, or even discipleship in loving and valuing God’s word (as a whole).

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