Never in world history has as much information been as easily accessible to as many people as in the 21st century. If you want to know the name of Alexander the Great’s father, you can search for the answer on the World Wide Web using, for example, the Google search engine, which can search over 60 trillion Web pages at any given moment.1 If you want to master the Rubik’s cube, you can begin by searching one of several thousand Rubik’s cube tutorial videos at YouTube.com. If you want to read 10 different English translations of Genesis 1:1, you can do so on-line at one of countless Bible-study Web sites in a matter of minutes (or perhaps seconds). The fact is, more people have the opportunity to acquire more knowledge than ever before in human history.
Although we live in the information age, and though Bibles and Bible study aids are more readily available to more people, tragically, Americans are increasingly ignorant of the Word of God. According to a 2014 study conducted by the Barna Research Group and published by the American Bible Society, 88% of households in the U.S. own at least one copy of the Bible.2 Furthermore, 82% of adults consider themselves at least moderately, if not highly, knowledgeable about the Bible.3 Yet, 46% of Americans (and 61% of American millennials) are “non-Bible readers.”4 What’s more, nearly 60% of Americans cannot correctly identify the first five books of the Bible, even within a multiple-choice question.5 In 2013, over 50% of Americans either did not know if John the Baptist was one of the 12 apostles or actually thought (incorrectly) that he was.6 That same year, nearly 50% of American millennials indicated that Sodom and Gomorrah were (or might have been) married.7 We may live in the age of information, but sadly, Americans’ general knowledge and understanding of the Bible—the most important Book on Earth—could aptly be described as the age of ignorance. The simple fact is, Americans are increasingly unaware of the contents of the Bible and unprepared to rightly divide it.
Given these facts, Apologetics Press would like to help Christians and non-Christians systematically understand the Bible better. In this article, we concisely highlight several vital truths and preliminary principles of Bible study that everyone needs to know. Think of these principles as helpful tips to remember as we seek to treat the Bible fairly and interpret it accurately. Christians who are familiar with these principles may find a review of them refreshing and an organized collection of them in one place helpful in teaching others. We hope that those who are less familiar with the Bible will find the following systematic statements and principles helpful in coming to a correct understanding of the precious, soul-saving, life-enriching truths of the Book that has blessed more lives than any other book in history, and that students will soon be reading the Bible for all that it is worth as they systematically “search the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).
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