The Psalmist claimed that God’s word is “more precious than gold,” has the power to “revive the soul,” has the capacity to “make wise the simple,” and produces “great reward” (Psalm 19). A commodity that possesses such value and offers such amazing results deserves our greatest attention. Unfortunately in Canada most people do not recognize the worth of God’s wisdom, do not know how to understand it, and consequently have no capacity to apply its life-giving wisdom to their lives.
Why is this happening?
- Changes in the educational ministries of the local church over the last 25 years
- Changes in the way society views Christianity and the Bible as a source of truth and wisdom
- Changes in basic literacy within Canada – almost 50% of Canadian adults “can’t work well with words” (Literacy Canada statistics), which means they struggle to read the Bible and its content becomes largely inaccessible. 10,000,000 Canadians constitute this group of people.
- Increased use of visual media in contrast to text.
Many people just lack the skills to access the Bible, many have no desire to access the Bible, and some ideologically oppose the message expressed in the Bible. Several organizations in Canada do a fine job of distributing scriptures, but if people cannot read it with understanding, the potential benefits sadly cannot be fully achieved? These complex and diverse factors accumulate to one result – biblical and theological literacy in Canada is in serious decline. The consequences are serious – people lack the knowledge and potential to participate fully in the kind of life God designed for humans to enjoy.
Northwest Baptist Seminary and our family of churches believe that the Bible is God’s authoritative, inerrant word and if people will read and understand its message, it can make people “wise unto salvation.” Throughout our history as a Seminary and a church movement we have valued biblical study, biblical preaching, strong educational programs in our churches, and theological truth. For us biblical and theological literacy is both missional and essential to our responsible pursuit of the Great Commission. Initiating the Centre for Biblical and Theological Literacy serves as one means by which we can mobilize our people, our leadership, our resources to
“equip Christian and non-Christian individuals and communities to discern the wisdom of the Christian Scriptures and be competent and motivated to apply its wisdom for salvation and shalom in their communities.”
We desire to “give Scripture its voice!”
We envision that this Centre :
- Will become a nationally recognized promoter of biblical wisdom and its benefits;
- Will demonstrate the careful communication and application of biblical wisdom to key issues and trends shaping Canadian society;
- Will teach and model rigorous application of Evangelical Hermeneutics to the interpretation of Scripture;
- Will champion the voice of Scripture and motivate people to embrace biblical wisdom because of its relevance for healthy, just ways of living.
We have defined several initial goals :
- Help church communities assess their current capacity as centres promoting biblical and theological literacy;
- Help church communities develop and improve their capacity as centres promoting biblical and theological literacy
- Help church communities advocate for the application of biblical wisdom in their communities
- Enable believers in the marketplace develop their capacity to apply biblical wisdom to their workplace responsibilities
- Work with youth pastors to promote and develop biblical and theological literacy among Canadian youth.
Another significant role for the Centre will be to serve as a theological resource for FEBPacific as it seeks to develop biblically sound responses to misleading and harmful theological movements and ideas.
Our website is under construction and should be live in a week or two. Some resources will be available on the website. We anticipate developing some workshops that will assist people in local churches to develop some of these capacities. We also envision future conferences that will bring focus to the development of biblical and theological literacy.
We are very grateful to the Foundation for Fellowship Baptist Ministries for the financial support they have provided in the form of a grant to enable us to initiate the Centre.
If you wish to partner with us in the work of the Centre, please contact me.
 UNESCO defines literacy as:
“the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.”