Discussing
Quick Thought: Jesus Excuses Ignorance?

Todd Hertz

Rickd
September 29, 2010

I have some sympathy with the average Christian. I know who led the first great awakening because of graduate and post graduate college work. Nor do I necessarily expect the average Christian to understand Vishnu's place in Hindu theology. It's great if they do. My daughter went to a catholic college prep high school and visited a hindu temple with her class but not everyone has that experience. I want to encourage education without celebrating elitism. I think some of these results may be skewed by education, income and race. I wonder how a test of Bible knowledge would do?

Paul Sanduleac
September 29, 2010

Partially this is right, because it really does not determine our salvation, but it does show the level of interest to find more about our faith. I also think that a big part of this study could be false. As far as I understand it was done by evolutionists and they certainly are promoting an agenda. I can go outside and ask 10 people what evolution is and I'd get 10 different answers.

Frank Nicodem
September 29, 2010

I'm not sure if I could put it better than Rickd. "I want to encourage education without celebrating elitism." There are certainly passages in scripture pointing toward knowledge and understanding. There is also conventional wisdom that says you have to know about something to SOME extent before you can honestly say you believe it. However, it certainly can be taken to the wrong extreme where arguments over lack of knowledge or difference in opinion as to what the theology is leads to declaration of not being a true believer. I suppose you could put this in the category similar to works or "fruit". Factually, all you need is faith in Christ... but once you understand even a bit of his sacrifice, his life, his example... wouldn't you WANT to know more? That certainly would be something that "generally" shows a more sincere interest vs someone who takes it all for granted and has no interest to read or study. Granted, I speak as if i give full credit to this study and as the other post above me mentions, these things have to be taken with a grain of salt.

dfoz3
September 29, 2010

I consider myself very young in my Christian journey. I was saved at the beginning of this decade and was a dedicated Christ follower for about a year before falling back and struggling with depression and other things for the last decade. In August I came back to Christ and got baptised shortly after.<br><br>I say all of this just to give a brief history of my spiritual background. I also am a high school dropout with a GED and about 6 community college credits. <br><br>That said, I scored 14 out of 15 on this test through my personal knowledge of the various religions involved. I have always been very interested in religion and spirituality which ultimately led me to Jesus. <br><br>I think that for someone like myself who has gone through a lot of ups and downs in my spiritual journey it is easier to be knowledgeable about other religions than someone who was born and raised in a specific religion.

Bethanykj
September 29, 2010

I thought the great awakening question was especially tough, and not something I think people need to know (I knew it, but for the same reasons, advanced study). I looked at the pew report, and it seemed like religion knowledge correlated pretty closely with general knowledge. Your caution about elitism is well-taken.<br><br>I do think it's important to know the bible to be a good christian, and quite a few alleged christians couldn't name the four gospels. I think it's hard to know Jesus without knowing where to find the stories about Jesus.

Bob K
September 30, 2010

I also agree with Rickd - I took the quiz and got them all right but I know that many of my Christian friends would not have because they haven't studied other religions. How important is it really for people of one faith to know about other faiths. Would we be upset if Hindus didn't know about Moses? Now that I see what the questions are like I think the results are predictable. The people who did well are the people who know a little about lots of different religions rather than a lot about one of them. I'm guessing, but I wonder if Mormons (who did well on the test) learn about different religions in their prep for their year of evangelism. The headlines in some news outlets (variations on "Christians don't know their faith as well as agnostics") is really misleading.

Todd Hertz
September 30, 2010

Paul: The study was conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion &amp; Public Life, an organization that is highly respected and professionally neutral. In 2009, the Forum did perform a national survey on the views of religious person's regarding evolution but it was not advocacy or an agenda.<br><br>

JCarpenter
September 30, 2010

I read the report; I took the quiz (am I elitist for broadcasting my 100%?); I was amazed at first that Christians scored that much lower than other groups. However, Protestantism alone (not including Catholics or Orthodox) covers such a wide base of life experience, social class, and education, let alone religious practice, knowledge, and theology. As a career high school teacher, I'd think that most Americans should at least have been exposed to the Great Awakening and Jonathan Edwards in U.S. History/Amer. Lit classes (Puritans, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," etc.)---a quick survey of history/lit textbooks by secular publishers since the late 1970's has Edwards listed; merely identifying Vishnu as a Hindu god takes a lot less than an in-depth knowledge of Hindu theology; Luther is a figure in World History, etc. Read through the whole Pew report and see that results aren't _skewed by education, income, and race, but those factors are taken into consideration and are delineated in the full report. American society, and its Christians, are diverse in their education and socio-economic demographic; the Pew study does show that the more education, the more knowledge about faith. <br>Elitism has an opposite, anti-intellectualism, which has been a core force in evangelical Christianity as well as in American culture. Little on the quiz or in the full survey went beyond surface level identification, plus it was largely objective multiple choice. How many evangelical Christians can express what they believe, beyond an 'individualistic therapeutic deism' or a vague American Christian-influenced moralism--broad brush of course, but do we in our churches value _knowledge of scriptures, creeds, catechisms, liturgical traditions, of our own faith expression, let alone knowing a ground-level fact about Jewish Shabbat or the founder of Mormonism? Knowledge does not _equal faith (witness the higher scores of atheists/agnostics), yet ignorance does a disservice to theologians' and scholars' lifetimes of service---Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Aquinas, Edwards, Barth, Niebuhr and others---who help us understand God, who help us define our faith, who help us construct a Christian worldview. Churches need to educate as well as "nurture," disciple-ing involves learning as well as doing.

JCarpenter
September 30, 2010

Paul, your last sentence parallels the point of the Pew study; people off the street are clueless, yet would be readily vocal in expressing opinion based on a perceived notion, and would be as quick to believe the same, whether the topic is science, religion, politics, or economics----

Glink
September 30, 2010

I don't think most of the questions would be addressed in a Sunday School class. Abraham, Jewish Sabath is usually thought of as Saturday. Golden Rule would not be taken very seriously either. Why would the avg non-Muslim even think about a country that is thousands of miles away? I guess I am saying that the test was poorly written. We rarely think outside our small box.

Bethanykj
September 30, 2010

Also, I wanted to direct people to a post from last spring, though alas, the discussion in the comments has somehow been deleted. This addresses the question of religious knowledge from a higher ed standpoint:<br><a href="http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2010/05/17/should-public-colleges-teach-religion/" rel="nofollow">http://www.thinkchristian.net/...</a>

Bethanykj
September 30, 2010

not only that, but the survey separated "atheist/agnostic" from "nothing in particular" meaning people who had considered their spiritual views and decided against religion were in an unsurprisingly high-scoring category compared to those who simply hadn't given it any thought. The survey measures what it measures, but I don't find it particularly surprising or troubling.<br>However, when christians start making misinformed claims about the tenets of other religions, that lack of knowledge becomes a problem.

Todd Hertz
October 1, 2010

And Glink that is exactly why I don't want us to dismiss these findings or dismiss the need for greater education: We DO rarely think outside our small box. And to see that tendency (through something like this poll) and to intentionally not want to change it--or to rationalize why that is OK--is, to me, sad.

Melayton
October 1, 2010

Boo-yeah. 15 out of 15, baby. :-)<br><br>Seriously, having seen the actual questions was really interesting. I <a href="http://telperion1.livejournal.com/383124.html" rel="nofollow">blogged about it</a> the other day just on the comparative levels of questions correct, but that was before I'd seen any of the actual questions.<br><br>I'd say that Chrisitians' low percentages probably comes from ignorance of other peoples' faith. And of political/historical issues more than theology. Whether that is excusable or not, I don't know; but I do find it an interesting revelation about this poll. (I wish I could take the full poll, actually.)

Paulvanderklay
October 2, 2010

All tests have biases and every good test measures something, not always what anyone and everyone realize. I think its a pretty good test. It's clearly given to a population that is majority Christian to suss out what they might and might not know. The Edwards question I think is good because it does differentiate groups. You do have to know some American church history to know Edwards. The real question is what is the test designed to measure and what conclusions do the results lead us to believe regarding American religious knowledge. I was not surprised that atheists/agnostics scored highest. In our context most of those in that group that I know have actually done some religious surveying and experimentation which would broaden their exposure and help them to get some of the non-Bible questions correct. The test measures knowledge not piety.

Preacherwesley
October 2, 2010

I wrote about this more on my blog, but here is the skeleton version.<br><br>1. I would expect atheists, entrenched in a pluralistic mindset, to know more about other religions than Christians.<br><br>2. These surveys only qualification for calling someone a Christian is for them to say they are. No real criteria is given besides self-identification.<br><br>3. Have you seen the Christian teachers that a lot of Christians flock to, what do you expect with that is "feeding" the sheep.<br><br><a href="http://www.studyyourbibleonline.com/random" rel="nofollow">http://www.studyyourbibleonlin...</a>

Truthseeker
October 3, 2010

I think that there is no excuse for ignorance, ESPECIALLY for the Christian! We are to use ALL of the gifts He gave us, including our intelligence. And it is important for us to educate ourselves about other religions and cultures, otherwise we cannot be effective witnesses. And yes, I took the online version of the quiz, and I got all of the questions right. It's true that I have something of an edge because my husband is a clergyman and an English teacher, and I am and English teacher and a former history/geography teacher, but God never said that only educators needed to be educated!! If we are to fulfill the Great Commission, we must understnd what we believe, and why. We must also understand what others believe, and why. It is a cop-out, and quite typical of modern American thought, to say that we needn't be bothered.God's Word says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God." Being lazy about acquiring knowledge and wisdom should not be a part of the Christian's worldview.

Tracey Sheneman
October 5, 2010

Ignorance, willful or not, begets prejudice and solidifies stereotypes of people belonging to groups other than one's own; hence the importance, if we Christians wish to exhibit a Christ-like attitude of hospitality and welcome to strangers and outcasts, of general knowledge and interest in understanding our fellows. <br>That said, I should bone up on my Buddhism, as I confused the Nirvana concept with Hinduism.<br><br>Extra credit: Who wrote the Great Awakening-era sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?" A)Jerry Falwell B)John Updike C)Jonathan Edwards

Bethanykj
October 5, 2010

also, scholarly responses on The Immanent Frame:<br><a href="http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2010/10/05/religious-knowledge/" rel="nofollow">http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2010...</a>

Chrisozman
October 7, 2010

yes, really!

Againali
October 8, 2010

Well, first I had to go and take the test to find out how ignorant I was. And the one answer I got wrong, I was going to go back and change if I could...I quickly answered that teachers weren't allowed to use the Bible as a literary example, and then realized after I answered "true" that the world "literary" escaped me and I had definitely heard it used as an example (although it was many moons ago). I guess John Edwards must have resided in the recesses of my memory somewhere, because I actually got that question right and had no idea who he was (or if I'm even using the right name now...did the test say "John" or was it another name?).<br><br>As for this test being a source of a Christan's ignorance, I can see both points. I, at first, felt the way a lot of Christans felt...do we REALLY need to know what Hinduism is about, or who celebrates Ramadan (and I did happen know all that)? But when I thought about it, I realized it could actually be very beneficial. For example, when ministering to a Jew on a Friday night, it might be good to know that it's their Sabbath and they're REALLY not going to be as receptive to you as, say, on a Tuesday afternoon! That's one "quick thought."<br><br>The other is that as Christians, yes, I'm sure God excuses us for not getting 100% on this particular quiz. Maybe not so much if we were taking a test on the book of John...

Sistersharonblcl
October 11, 2010

please aloud me to say this with common scents yes he does... he said when they know not but once you know then is no excuse... but if we ask for forgiveness then yes by all means he will excuse one ... even if they have the knowledge of it but if one know and not ask forgiveness that that judgement fall on you that's all i've to say about this amen.

Add your comment to join the discussion!