Many Christians have hassle studying the Bible themselves

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(Photo: Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema)

Many Christians have difficulty understanding the scriptures without the help of others, as new research has shown.

Over half (57%) of the 1,002 US Protestant churchgoers surveyed by Lifeway Research said it was difficult to understand the Bible if they read it themselves.

"Church goers are ready to defend the Bible as true and as a faithful moral standard," said Scott McConnell, Executive Director of LifeWay Research.

"But most admit that they stumble upon the specific meaning while reading."

"Reading and learning as an individual is important, but we need others to help us think about what we discover," said Dwayne McCrary of Discover the Bible.

"By learning together, we can also gain insights from others that also help us advance in our studies."

Despite this apparent difficulty, nine out of ten said they could normally understand the importance of a scripture to themselves, and over three quarters (81%) were confident that they could help others with doubts as to the veracity of the scripture.

Older Christians were more likely to have problems. Around a fifth (19%) of those over 65 said they had no confidence in their ability to dispel the doubts of someone struggling with the veracity of the scripture, and a fifth said they did not think that They could help a neighbor when he was confused about a passage in the Bible.

Almost all churchgoers (96%) said it was important to understand the context in which the Bible was written and believed that the meaning should be applied to the current context (93%).

However, a majority (82%) also believed that the truth of God's Word could mean different things to different people.

McCrary suggested that people spend more time thinking about the meaning and use of different scriptures.

"If we just jump to apply the text, we run the risk of missing the principle or truth that should guide our use of a passage in the Bible," he said.

"We tend to jump from what a passage says to what we do in response and forget to take into account the principle or truth behind what is said.

"Proper Bible study takes time and thought, but it brings us to the meaning – which doesn't change – so we can look at how we meet God today and how we should respond to those encounters."

Almost a third (30%) said they accepted some truths from the Bible, but not others, while a quarter (24%) believed that some parts of the scripture were outdated due to cultural change, with the proportion that agrees with this statement, third (36%) among 18- to 34-year-olds rises to over a.

"For a religion that claims a foundation in God's Word, it is surprising to see so many practicing Christians give priority to their own words in their faith," said McConnell.

"In a world of constant change, some find it difficult to accept the biblical claim of an unchangeable source of truth."

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