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Interpreting Faith

KETK
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POSTED: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 9:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 9:35am

SPECIAL REPORT

Would you say the Bible is still holy, or just history book now? KETK's Stacey Spivey gives us an eye-opening insight on how Americans and East Texans see the Bible today.

It's an ancient compilation of 66 books with around 40 authors, written over a 1600 year period. It's still number one selling book today, and the blueprints to life for billions of people across the world...the Bible. "Even though this book is ancient, it still speaks to the human heart," said Father George Dinguis with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. Recent studies say Americans are becoming less religious, but a new Gallup poll reveals how Americans view the Bible. They asked which of the following categories, fits their beliefs.

The Bible is:

  • the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally
  • the inspired word of God, but not everything is to be taken literally
  • an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man

Three in four people in the U.S. still see the Bible as the word of God, or connected to God. This didn't shock Father Dinguis, and he said, "It touches human nature across the board, so those who believe in God, those who don't believe in God, the fact that theres great wisdom behind the scriptures, is in subversion to many people." Danny Loeffelholz, preacher at Grace Community Church in Tyler, agrees. He said, "I think there will always be an interest in the bible and what it says." Loeffleholz said its humbling, and that's he's "encouraged, really encouraged by the fact that theres a number of people that still yes say, that still believe the bible is still God' s word."

Even though the number has dropped significantly since the 1970's, East Texas church leaders still see America as a Christian society. Including Associate Pastor Ken Warren for Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. Warren said, "America for the most part is a Christian nation, we have a Christian influence in our culture." Father Dinguis believes this is true. He has lived abroad, seeing how influential the bible is in the U.S. "I know that people in the states are much more religious and Christian and practice more their faith than Europe right now," said Dinguis. "But its kind of shocking to realize just how Christian this country is historically," said Father Matt Boulter with Christ Episcopal Church in Tyler.

However, the poll also shows 21% of Americans see it as fables, legends, history, and moral precepts. Father Boulter believes this shows rising popularity in progressivism in the states. "I think we are in a very cultural moment in our country," said Boulter. "I thought the article was a proper reflection of the progression of society from the late seventies to present," said Daniel Ross, a member of the Secular Humanist Society of East Texas. He and Natalie Rumfield, vice president of the group, believe this trend is because of growth of knowledge. "I think we've made discoveries in the past, and here recently, and they tend to contradict the Bible itself, whether its biblical timelines or the stories, and so overtime i think people are going to start evolving their way of thinking," said Rumfield. Ross added, "I feel like when more people become more honest with themselves, and actually understand the naturalistic explanations, you're going to see a natural trend of people not believing in the Bible."

East Texas preachers say they see this moving trend. "I think people are growing in being disconnected from God," said Loeffelholz. The local church leaders we spoke with say its because many Americans fail to make the written word, a living word. Loeffelholz said, "to understand the bible, i have to dig into it myself and really soak it up and see what it teaches that way I can say that is the word of god because i myself have gotten into it." Dinguis also said, "sometimes we divide Christianity into this is what i believe in but really the question is this is whom i believe in. Its not a what, but a whom as a person." Warren then added, "it's not what you believe about the bible, its what the bible does in your life that becomes the critical factor and that is totally missing from the survey."

This is what we've heard from clergymen... but what do you believe? Here's what some East Texans had to say.

  • "I think it's absolutely the truth, I mean it is the undisputed word of God, and I'm not surprised people still believe that it is."
  • "Theres a lot of disbelievers and theres going to be a lot of people surprised when the changes of the world get here."
  • "I really am kind of surprised I think it would be really less really, and not that I think it should be but I think that our society has become so tolerant to things that are not godly."
  • "I'm not surprised that they believe, its the point that they may believe, but do they live it?"

Comments News Comments

Fr. DINGUIS is an understanding, well educated person who uses the Bible to point out the love and forgiveness that God has for His people!

Ms. Spivey seems to have lost her journalistic integrity. One side says past and present discoveries "contradict" the Bible. Really? Since Spivey lets such a bold claim unanswered, I will respond here. I would love to see that evidence since archeology has repeatedly supported the historical record of the Bible.

Great story.
The small "i" small "G" in God missing the apostrophes in There(')s and some words mixed up in sentences was distracting.
No one is perfect- only God.
I'd always heard this was the Bible belt.
If this is the Bible belt then it's wearing suspenders.
I see no difference from other parts of the country.
People "talk" about it as in "have a Blessed day" but don't live it.
The Bible is God's message.
Like any message, if you "get it" you live it.
I tell people I pray & they look away.

Thank you for doing this story!

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