Professor battles bible illiteracy with online program
“Sing it, see it, study it,” is the key to Bible professor Kenneth Berding’s new program “Bible Fluency,” designed to combat biblical illiteracy. The website launched on Sept. 28 and received about 6,000 views as of Oct. 24.
Throughout Berding’s 13-year career at Biola, he has seen incoming students’ amount of biblical knowledge trending downward. Biblical illiteracy is a hot button issue at the forefront of church discussion, Berding said.
“We’re complaining all the time about biblical illiteracy,” Berding said, “and it’s a real problem, as serious as they’ll come. 150 years ago, people knew about the Bible. Now, they don’t. I decided to do something about it.”
This program attempts to create a middle piece bridging the gap between illiteracy and fluency, he said. “Bible Fluency” sparked 15 years ago from Berding’s book “Bible Revival: Recommitting Ourselves to One Book,” an effort to address the illiteracy problem.
“I’m the director, but there’s a list of about 50 names on the website who have been involved. More than half of them are part of Redemption Hill church, and a bunch of them have Biola connections too,” said Berding.
Any royalties made from the program will go directly to a fund Redemption Hill Church hosts to contribute to biblical literacy, and especially to the growth of the program.
“Bible Fluency” works as a goal-focused resource designed to utilize music, graphic art, workbooks and video lectures to help people learn to mentally map their way through the Bible. The elements of the program work well for individual or group study. Teaching resources provide a twelve week program for both the Old and New Testament.
The program does not cater to Bible scholars or kids; rather, it accommodates for everyone in between, especially the college-age group and young adults.
Berding summed up the Bible into 400 of the most important events, characters and themes, and an icon was designed to symbolize each. Visual elements of the program utilize these icons, designed by Austin Axen, a biblical studies major who graduated last year.
“I needed someone who was both a Bible person and a developing artist. We met in this office, literally for hundreds of hours,” Berding said. “How do you create an ultra-simplistic icon to represent, ‘faith without works is dead?’ We went through all 400 and talked about every single one. We would try things and evaluate them, and then come back and do it again.”
The program includes two CDs, one for each the Old and New Testament. Each CD provides half an hour of music with lyrics covering the total 400 icons. "Biola faculty, staff and students sing the majority of the songs."
“We’re in a situation where we’ve got a church in the United States that’s like a building, and it all looks great, but there’s a foundation underneath it that’s crumbling. We don’t see that it’s crumbling, because we are still benefiting from former generations who actually knew the Bible better. I think that deception is going to come into the church quickly and we’re not going to recognize it. We need to know the Word of God,” Berding said.
The entire project is available online, along with free digital files of all of the resources, including downloadable print-outs of study materials. You can download the songs for free from the website or on iTunes. You can order hard copies of the CDs, workbooks, flashcards, videos and teaching resources from Weaver Book Company.