World Evangelical Alliance Secretary-General Says Biblical Illiteracy Is the Biggest Problem Facing Global Christianity

Thomas Schirrmacher speaks at "Mission Freedom," an event on human trafficking in Frankfurt, Germany. | Martin Warnecke
Thomas Schirrmacher speaks at “Mission Freedom,” an event on human trafficking in Frankfurt, Germany. | Martin Warnecke

The biggest crisis facing the evangelical, global church today is the growing lack of biblical literacy worldwide, according to Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly elected secretary-general of the World Evangelical Alliance.

“Our biggest problem is that Bible knowledge is fading away,” Schirrmacher told The Christian Post. “This is the utmost problem we have beyond all theological differences, financial problems, and political questions.”

Schirrmacher, who studied theology in Switzerland and the United States, and serves as the WEA’s Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns, said that in the Western world “more and more kids that come from evangelical families are not really rooted in the Bible,” and many of them leave the faith.

“In the Western world, the percentage of kids from Christian families who stay in the faith is going down,” he said.

The number of young people leaving the faith in Western countries is “counteracted” by people becoming Christians as young adults in other parts of the world, according to Schirrmacher.

However, these young Christians also lack deep biblical knowledge and “only know about the Bible what they learned from their conversion,” he said. In rural areas, young Christians are often tasked with leading large churches despite their lack of biblical and theological knowledge.

“So many people are becoming believers that the one who has been a believer the longest becomes the leader of the church,” Schirrmacher said. “That might be three years. Short for us, but long for them. We have such a high conversion rate worldwide, that it’s extremely difficult to follow up with discipling, with teaching, with Bible knowledge. The result is that people know much less and are more much more open to secularism and strange things like the ‘health and wealth’ gospel.”

According to the State of the Bible 2020 report released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, U.S. adults who say they read the Bible daily dropped from 14% to 9% between early 2019 and 2020.

The study found that the proportion of Americans who read the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in 10 (9%), the lowest number on record during the 10 years of the State of the Bible research study.

Schirrmacher told CP that WEA seeks to combat the “crisis” of insufficiently trained church leadership by providing a recognized, global standard for outcome- and impact-based assessment.

“This is just one thing we do, but it’s extremely important,” he stressed. “Because if evangelicals don’t know the Bible any longer, it doesn’t make any sense that we are a Bible movement. We have nothing else. We have no pope, we have no structure that keeps us together, no matter what we believe. We need to sit down and study the Bible, know the Scriptures, and be properly equipped for ministry.”

Schirrmacher will replace Bp Efraim Tendero as head of the WEA on March 1, 2021.

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Source: Christian Post