BIBLICAL LITERACY & THE BUSINESS INSTRUCTOR

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If you asked your students who the Bible characters Cain and Abel are, would they be able to answer correctly? Or, would they like some, say that these were two disciples of Jesus? Even if they could tell you that Cain and Abel are two sons of Adam and Eve, would your students know Cain’s occupation and Abel’s occupation? Would they know who is the first person mentioned in the Bible as the owner of a vineyard?

Many people have heard about Abraham, but how many of your students could tell you the story about the time when resources were running scarce for Abraham and his cousin Lot and which one of them took the leadership to find a solution to problem? How many of your students could tell you under which king mentioned in the Bible there was so much trust in the organization that there was no need for internal controls on cash wages paid to workers?

Since the 1990s various surveys have been conducted, both nationally and internationally, among Protestants and Roman Catholics, to discern the level of biblical literacy (sometimes called “Christian literacy”). The results are not encouraging and the situation is not getting better. From these surveys we know that people with college education do better answering basic Bible knowledge questions than do people with a high school education. People who attend church do better than those who do not attend church. Even so, a small proportion of people are growing up with minimal literacy when it comes to Bible knowledge. Keep in mind that most students have no more than a high school education when they enter as first-year college students at your school.

Many have heard the names of the famous people mentioned in the Bible: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Samson, David, Goliath, Solomon, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul and so forth. But how many people can tell you the stories that are connected with these people? That’s a different matter altogether!  And how many can tell you the deeper meaning of some of their stories? How many could tell you accurately the essence of the deep biblical themes relevant to business (holiness, truth, loving kindness, wisdom, righteousness, justice and others)?

What difference does this make for business? Understanding the basic stories and themes of Scripture are crucial to understanding the biblical worldview on business. Many stories have economic or business element. Biblical literacy is the building blocks for theological literacy necessary for deeply understanding what the Scripture says to business professionals. Furthermore, showing students how knowledge of business can enrich their understanding of Scripture might be an encouragement to some who find it boring to read the Bible.

More to the point, have you ever thought about your responsibilities as a Christian business professor to contribute to the solution of biblical illiteracy? If faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), isn’t it possible that the study of business can present opportunities to hear the word and thereby experience faith for the marketplace? Should the problem of biblical illiteracy be given to religion faculty, pastors and priests to correct? Framed in more blunt terms, on what basis should the Christian business classroom abdicate its role (some would say responsibility) in teaching the biblical foundations for business?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 New American Standard Version)

“And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 New American Standard Version)

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the Apostle Paul, a businessman and evangelist, in his second letter to Timothy exclude business when referring to the importance of Scripture for preparation for “every good work?”
  2. On what basis should the business instructor leave the problem of Christian illiteracy to the religion scholars, chaplains and pastors to solve for their business students?
  3. How can the business instructor contribute to the solution to the problem of biblical illiteracy?
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