Inside Out 54: Theological Illiteracy

02.23.11 | Martha Manikas-Foster

When the Barna Research Group listed its six “megathemes” of 2010, it included theological illiteracy. What this means is that fewer and fewer American Christians know the doctrines of the faith---the foundational beliefs that both define and ground Christian truth.

Now, none of us likes being called ignorant, and in essence that’s what the research is saying. As a church we’ve been content to skate on the surface. As a group, we’re all over the idea of the free gift of God. Perhaps, however, we haven’t spent much time thinking about the cost of that gift, or the hard self-appraisal necessary before we can fully embrace what’s been extended our way.  Maybe it’s been easier to “catch” faith---like one catches a cold---instead of soberly considering the personal and corporate sacrifices that might be necessary if we’re to carry our crosses daily.

John Stonestreet joins me in this podcast to discuss the idea of theological illiteracy in the American church. John is the President and CEO of the Colson Center, a division of Break Point, and also the Executive Director of Summit Ministries. This all means that he spends a great deal of time thinking and teaching about Christian faith and how it intersects with the surrounding culture.

Interested in how the American church became less and less knowledgeable about the Christian faith? Curious about the practical steps that might move us toward theological literacy? Join us. 


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 02.22.11 Gayle Wilson commented

Seems the more information is available, the more ignorant we are (the more rich we are, the less healthy we are). See for a few hundred modern day examples of this!

If I hadn't attended seminary, I wouldn't even have known what the term "Church Fathers" meant. Not being in touch with the historical Christian faith (which emphasizes the theology of the cross v. theology of glory) keeps us repeating cultish and sect-ish mistakes as well as less-serious-on-the-surface doctrinal mistakes.

I don't want to mention any by name so I won't offend, but everything we see today, it's been done and commented upon by very wise "Fathers."

Being theologically/historically literate would go a long way to alleviating our theological ignorance.

on 02.23.11 Anonymous commented

thank you for the interview - it has given me more
to study and think about.

on 02.23.11 Anonymous commented

thank you for the interview - it has given me more
to study and think about.




Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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