Museum of the Bible brings God’s Word to life

Museum of the Bible brings God’s Word to life

Museum of the Bible brings God’s Word to life

Museum of the Bible brings God’s Word to life

BY BENNETT ROLAN | BSF BLOG EDITOR

I n the heart of Washington D.C., Genesis 1 soars 40 feet above street level, engraved on the Museum of the Bible’s bronze entrance. The text reminds us that God’s Word stands firm in a changing culture. That narrative continues throughout this spectacular facility, where cutting-edge technology and interactive displays present the Bible’s impact on human history 

“It’s a safe place to come and engage with a Book that’s been speaking for itself for thousands of years,” Museum of the Bible CEO Ken McKenzie said. “We are hoping to instill a hunger and desire to understand God’s Word.”  

Immersive Experience

Through immersive exhibits, the Bible and its history come to life as visitors walk through a firstcentury village, view live performances and explore a multitude of ancient and modern artifacts. Museum officials estimate it would take nine 8-hour days to view the entire collection.  

 “I really enjoy meeting with a blend of people who also say, ‘This is my Book,’ ” Ken said. “Walking through the museum, you might meet a group of nuns, an archbishop from the Armenian church or BSF class members. They all have different ways of looking at faith, but the one thing that brings them together is the Book.”   

For one Amish family, a virtual reality exhibit of Israel fulfilled a life-long dream. 

“As they were walking out, one woman said, ‘As Amish, we don’t travel very far, and I’ve always dreamt of visiting the Holy Land. Now that I’ve done this, I’ve been there,’ ” Ken said. “The museum was able to give her an experience she wouldn’t have had otherwise.” 

A Capital Presence

The concept for the museum began in Dallas, when two private collectors planned to showcase biblical artifacts in a short-term exhibition. The plan for a permanent museum took root, and early benefactors scouted properties in Dallas, New York and Washington, D.C.   

“Washington was chosen because of the relevancy of the museum itself,” Ken said. “I can’t think of a better time than now to point people back to the Bible. It’s a book about hope, and I think that’s a multi-generational message that resonates with people, especially in the nation’s capital.”   

The museum’s purpose is to educate visitors about the Bible’s unique divine content, relevance and impact on history and culture.   

Tackling Controversy 

From an academic perspective, the museum does not avoid controversial history. In one special exhibit, a highly edited Bible featuring only 232 chapters, called The Slave Bible, sits across from The Lincoln Bible, an iconic symbol of freedom.  

The Slave Bible, created in 1808, includes out-of-context passages about slavery and was used by slave traders to reinforce the evil institution. In contrast, The Lincoln Bible, featuring an ornament of Abraham Lincoln breaking the chains of slavery, was purchased by a group of freed slaves in 1863 to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation.    

“To get the full grasp of the history of the Book, our curatorial staff is committed to representing the entirety of the Bible’s impact,” Ken said. “In doing so, we can present the Bible as an exceptionally wonderful book that has been misapplied and misused in human hands. The display shows that the Book’s entire narrative is necessary to understand God’s story.”    

Unity in the Word

From ancient artifacts to modern culture, the museum presents one defining theme: the Bible’s ability to unite those who believe its truths.   

“One thing that the museum does well is to encourage people to understand other points of view,” Ken said. “I would say it encourages Christians to see how the book has impacted other people and other areas of life. Then we can see what we have in common, instead of looking at what separates us. Understanding the Bible’s significance in the big scheme of things just adds to the richness of what it means to be a follower of Christ.”   

The Museum of the Bible encourages visitors to engage more deeply with God’s Word and others. Whether we’re making a trip to Washington, D.C., or simply accessing collections and tools online, the Museum of the Bible’s exhibits give us a unique opportunity to discuss God’s Word with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.  

For those who want to explore the museum’s exhibits without traveling to Washington D.C, there are several resources available at museumofthebible.org

Second Floor

The Impact of the Bible

Third Floor

The Stories of the Bible

Fourth Floor

The History of the Bible

Fifth – Sixth Floors

Upper Gallery

World Stage Theater

Stations of the Cross (ends May 27)

Amazing Grace – The Musical

The Book Minute

Spend a minute with one of the best-selling books of all time with The Book Minute from Museum of the Bible. These powerful videos will deliver the history, narrative and impact of the Bible straight to your inbox every Monday. 

Introducing Generation Z

Introducing Generation Z

Introducing

Generation Z

Introducing Generation Z

BY KIM HURTADO
BSF RESEARCH ANALYST
“… we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
His power, and the wonders He has done.” – Psalm 78:4b

I recently asked my son what he wanted to be when he grew up.  

Expecting to hear the words “doctor,” “engineer” or “behavioral scientist,” he quickly dashed those hopes. 

“YouTuber, mom,” he said. “I want to be a YouTuber.”  

It’s no wonder. Last year, a 7-year-old reported earning $22 million from his personal YouTube channel, Ryan Toysreview, where nearly 19 million subscribers watch him unbox and play with toys. 

Meanwhile, my daughter burst out laughing as she scrolled through my iPhone pictures and said, “Aww … what a cute old-people selfie!” When I asked, “What’s an old-people selfie?,” she fell on the floor in hysterics.  

(Apparently, an “old-people selfie” is a photo of your entire face. Young people intentionally crop out half of a face to make their photography more interesting.) 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Gen Z.   

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z are those born from 1999 to 2015. This generation currently constitutes the largest percentage of the country’s population, eclipsing American Baby Boomers, who held the majority for close to 50 years. 

The old order is fading, and the new order is growing 

What do Gen Zers believe?

The U.S. marketing research firm Barna Group says that unlike previous generations, when it comes to religious identity, only 4% of Gen Z have a biblical worldview. 

The percentage who identify as atheist – 13% – is double that of all U.S. adults. That may seem like a small number, but Americans are saying, “there is no God” at increasingly younger ages.

According to Pew Research Center, the “nones,” or people who do not identify with any religion, are at the highest percentages in history. This includes 23% of all U.S. adults and 35% of U.S. adult Millennials, a trajectory that Gen Z will continue. 

And more than half say that happiness is their ultimate goal in life, which equates to financial success.

What’s influencing them?

Gen Z is the first generation to have been exposed to smart technology and social media from birth. According to Barna, 57% of kids and teens look at the screen four or more hours per day; 26% spend eight or more hours a day on their devices – that’s an entire work day!  (My son requires an entire power strip to charge his devices!) 

In this digital world and as a result of social media, we have entered the era of the “democratization of influence.” In previous generations, family heritage and upbringing were the top influences in forming a person’s identity. But Barna reports that Gen Z ranks these fifth.  

While family, teachers, pastors or coaches used to be the primary voices of influence, we now compete with a multitude of worldviews streamed directly to kids’ devices. This generation is being discipled by their smart phones, YouTube and Google. 

This generation is being discipled by their smart phones, YouTube and Google. 

As a result, Gen Z is exposed to a false sense of reality. YouTubers often spend hours editing videos to portray a personal brand. On social media, kids are less likely to cultivate meaningful relationships because of an increased pressure to create a flawless, happy, successful or funny persona.   

The same technology that was designed to “make the world more open and connected,” which was Facebook’s original mission statement, is helping kids disengage from physical communities and relationships. 

Therefore, it should not surprise us that we are seeing an exponential rise in depression and lonliness.

From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. suicide rate increased 30%. Among females, the number skyrocketed to 50%. For teen girls, the number tripled since 2000. 

We can help

Surprisingly, Barna research shows that this young generation – whose top priority is attaining happiness and financial success – is willing to ask difficult questions about the meaning of life. The study reports that the rise in moral relativism, or the lack of a strong moral code, arises more from a confusion about truth than an actual rejection of it.  

So, this generation is not necessarily rejecting the God of the Bible. They know little about Him.  

What an opportunity! In love, patience and understanding, let us help them see the Lord. 

Judges 2:10 reminds us that there were consequences when the Israelites failed to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.

 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

Let us not repeat that.  

My hope is that God’s Word awakens an excitement to reach the next generation for Christ, instilling a sense of purpose and mission in each and every one of us.   

We do not have to know all the answers. We can simply share what God has done for us. Through our time in God’s Word in our BSF studies, we have much to share!  

As we look beyond ourselves, let us be willing to engage – not just with our minds and our theology, but with a humble heart, free of judgment. We can have a heart that is willing to say, “I don’t know all the answers. But I know that I love you. Let’s search for the answer together.”   

“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78: 1-7)

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