Should there be a test for citizens of God’s kingdom?

October 13, 2010 | Feature | Number 20
By John Longhurst |

If I want to become a citizen of the U.S., I need to take a citizenship test. Something similar occurs in Canada when someone wants to become a citizen of this country. The Canadian citizenship test evaluates an applicant’s knowledge of Canada, and includes questions about the government, elections, rights and responsibilities of citizens, and Canadian history and geography.

I’m not aware, however, that any such test exists for people who want to become members of a church—citizens of another kingdom—which is strange. If I need to pass a test to become a citizen of Canada or the U.S., shouldn’t I need to do the same to be a member of the Christian community?

I know, I know. Salvation is free. Nobody needs to pass a test to be part of God’s kingdom. But still, if someone wants to be a citizen of the Christian community, shouldn’t they be able to demonstrate minimal knowledge about the Bible, biblical characters, and church history and beliefs?

In times past, that was known as biblical literacy. Today, however, Bible
knowledge seems to have fallen out of favour in many places.

Of course, you can’t mandate Bible knowledge. You can’t make people go to Sunday school—the place where they will learn the most about God’s story—if they don’t want to. You can’t enforce Bible reading or study, or reading books about the Bible, theology, church history or Christian living.

In the end, if people want to know more about the Bible, and how God has acted in history, they will do it because it is important to them. Which, when you think about it, is not unlike wanting to become a citizen of a temporal kingdom: If someone wants that bad enough, they will spend time learning about that country. They will learn names and dates and places. They will study and prepare and memorize because the prize—Canadian citizenship—is so desirable and valuable.

Just like citizenship in God’s kingdom, in other words.

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