I am interested in the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and their languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic. I have read the whole Hebrew Bible all the way through twice and the whole four Canonical gospels all the way through four times. Imagine my surprise when I read that in his 1996 book, I Was Wrong, televangelist Jim Baker admitted that the first time he actually read the Bible all the way through was while he was in prison! Similarly, a Pew Research poll in 2010 found that evangelicals ranked only a smidgen higher than atheists in familiarity with the New Testament and Jesus’s teachings. Details (www.pewforum.org). In addition, Mr. Lee Woofenden, an ordained minister, in answering my original question, pointed out that 'historically, the Roman Catholic Church has at times discouraged or even effectively forbidden the laity from reading the Bible (...) The Tridentine Index of Prohibited Books, The Roman Index of Prohibited Books.' I, accordingly, ask:

Is there any evidence whatsoever or indications that some leaders in major Christian churches or denominations discourage lay Christians from reading the whole OT or NT?

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    I'm removing your first paragraph because it's irrelevant to the question, but to answer the question you asked there, the original was closed because as phased, it was far too open - more like a "let's have a discussion" question, which is not what StackExchange sites are about. I recommend you see the tour and the help center. This one is better. "Is there any evidence" is definitively answerable. "What are possible reasons" is discussion forum fodder. Mar 29, 2015 at 13:55
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    I think they all encourage it. It's popular to say that today. What the laity actually do is probably another story.
    – user3961
    Mar 30, 2015 at 2:36

4 Answers 4


What is/are the Christian denomination/denominations that most encourage reading the whole NT?

Baptists often place a high value on Biblical literacy. However, there can be a large variation within a particular denomination.

I was once in a business meeting 20 years ago where the subject of having our manufactured products labeled with the "CE" mark for European distribution was raised. Someone said that we "would not be able to sell without the mark".

Later I was talking with a man who I knew to be Christian (Lutheran) who had been in the same meeting. I was commenting that although I knew the Biblical use of the phrase did not apply to the CE mark, it was still interesting to hear the phrase used. He responded that he did not know what I was talking about. I then asked him if he had ever read the book of Revelation in the Bible. He said his pastor had told his church that they should not read the book of Revelation because only a pastor could understand it.

When you consider that there are many people limited in the ability to understand the Bible by either ability or interest as well as religious leaders who may wish to avoid difficult questions altogether, it should not be surprising that there are many instances of Biblical illiteracy.

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    Let's be fair ... it's a big book.
    – user3961
    Mar 30, 2015 at 2:39
  • (And not all of it very .. interesting. Although to miss out on Revelations is a shame; that's like reading a fast-paced novella!) Apr 1, 2015 at 2:50

As a follow-up to my answer to the previous version of this question, I should mention that the Index of Prohibited Books is no longer in force for Catholics. It was discontinued in 1966 by Pope Paul VI, and relegated to historical status. For a brief, readable explanation from a Catholic perspective, see Does the church still ban books?

  1. IMO this effectively discourages Roman Catholics from reading the Bible. Yes, they can read it, but their church tells them what it says!

  2. The major theme of the Reformation was "Bible, not Papacy!". So all true Protestants certainly encourage reading the whole NT (and OT also), reciting Acts 17:11: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

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    It would be better to source directly the Council of Trent excerpt, rather than a site which disparages most Christian churches, with falsehoods and half-truths. For example, that site claims to prove that Mormons are not Christians. Mar 30, 2015 at 3:26
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    @Brian Hitchcock Agreed. Some years ago I strove mightily with the main editor of that site to correct a lot of false statements about Emanuel Swedenborg and the Swedenborgian Church. The editor corrected some of them, but then added other false statements and dug in his heels. It is not a reliable source of information on the subjects it covers--especially those relating to other churches and sects. Mar 30, 2015 at 9:41

Is there any evidence ? My word there is. William Tyndale was strangled and burned for heresy in 1535, basically for translating the Bible into the vernacular. That may seem like a long long time ago, but believe you me, the attitudes behind that murder, tho' softened have not completely disappeared.

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