Based on the latest research, a large number of people don’t trust the Bible because they don’t trust Christians. From bad personal experiences to popular pastors committing moral failures to the dark history of the Church, Christians haven’t always cultivated the best of reputations. Unfortunately, this reputation has turned a whole population away from the Bible, dismissing it as a potential solution to the many problems of our broken world.
When it comes to Christians acting in a way that is not Christian, the past tells a pretty dark and depressing narrative. Whether it be the violent Crusades of the medieval period or the ownership of slaves in the name of God, Christians have been on the wrong side of history on a number of occasions. Thus, based on factual stories shared in books and classes alone, people tend to view Christianity—and, as a result, the Bible—negatively.
“Some Christians I know lie, cheat, and steal, and you think you’re going to heaven and I’m going to burn for eternity? You’ve got some things twisted.”
On a more personal level, there is a group of men and women who don’t trust the Bible, not because of church history but because of individual Christians they know or have been around in the past. From family and friends to classmates and coworkers, these individuals get a bad taste in their mouths when they think about the Bible, knowing how they’ve seen Christians treat other people. Their perceptions of the Bible have been skewed by their interactions with those who believe in the Bible.
“The Bible isn’t all that broken. Those who poorly represent it are broken and the Bible is getting caught up in that blame.”
In 2016, Barna Group and American Bible Society led a series of 8 focus groups with a total of more than 50 participants. In addition to the quotes above, many similar concerns were expressed by the groups:
- Pastors not acting Christian
- Politicians using the Bible to push their agenda
- Christians using it to condemn others and feel superior
- Christians simply preaching the Bible incorrectly
A fundamental aspect of the Bible and our faith is understanding and acknowledging the reality that we, as Christians, will never be perfect and will always fall short no matter how hard we try and how much we grow. That said, our behavior and actions, on a macro and micro level, have often been inexcusable. Failing to the show the love of Christ in word and in deed, we’ve misrepresented the Bible, and we can only hope that by building trust with others, we can build trust back into the Bible.