Americans who regularly read and engage with the Bible are more likely than non-Bible readers to walk daily with hope, according to a new study.
The poll by the American Bible Study asked Americans questions from the so-called Persevering Hope Scale, a psychological assessment test popular among researchers. It uses phrases that are free of biblical language.
“In dealing with the struggles of life, people who engage with the Bible have far more hope than others,” the report said.
The Persevering Hope Scale asks individuals to rate their response to a series of questions on a grade of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very). The Persevering Hope Scale asks: “When an outcome I desire seems unlikely or even impossible, I …
-- “Am determined to see things through to the end.
-- “Will keep trying.
-- “Won’t give up.
-- “Am motivated to wait for a successful outcome.”
In most people groups, scores were similar in the American Bible Society study. Men and women, for example, each scored 3.8. There also were little generational differences, with Boomers scoring a 3.8 and Elders scoring 3.7.
Among all Americans, the average score was 3.8.
Yet among Americans who are “Scripture engaged,” the score was 4.1. Americans who are “Bible disengaged” scored a 3.7.
“In a field with little variation, these are significant effects,” the report said. “No other demographic group scored that high. Apparently those who read the Bible regularly, who live and think according to its teaching, find resources that keep them going, even in tough times.”
The report defines the “Scripture engaged” as those who: 1) say the Bible impacts their daily lives, 2) say it helps guide their relationships with God and others, and 3) say they regularly read/listen to the Bible.
The Bible teaches Christians to be filled with hope, the report noted.
“This was clearly the case in New Testament times, when the book of 1 Peter was written to Christians facing opposition to their faith,” the report said. “‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15). In spite of life’s challenges, believers displayed a persevering hope that was noteworthy, prompting questions about where it came from. This research suggests it is still true today.”
The poll is part of the American Bible Society’s State of the Bible 2023 report.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Alexandra Fuller
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.