What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


There are some words you just never forget. "Heilsgeschichte" is one of them. It's German for,  "salvation history."  It's pronounced, "Hiles-ga-schick-ta." Trust me. Heilsgeschichte is something Biblical scholars and theologians notice in the scriptures.

In the Old Testament it's the redemptive history of God and the Jews. In the New Testament it's the savings acts of Jesus Christ.

Scholars believe that this is the first and therefore the oldest telling of the sacred history:

 "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.  When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land
flowing with milk and honey."       - Deut. 26:5-9

The Jews also sang their holy history. Psalms 44, 68, 78, 105, 106, 114 all retell the sacred story.  The story of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and return is the heilsgeschichte of the New Testament. We retell it at every communion service.

Sacred history culminates in the Return of Christ. The idea of heilsgeschichte is in direct contrast to the ancient Greek view that history is meaningless. The biblical view is that God is working in human history, and that history is heading somewhere - to the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Prayer. God of the ages, give me the faith to believe in sacred history, that life is not meaningless and that history will culminate in You.  Amen.

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