According to a recent Harris poll, America's favorite book is the Bible. It topped the poll in all categories but there were a lot of differences in people's second choice. Harris reports:
Across all demographic groups the number one book is The Bible. Behind The Bible, the Civil War is still being fought as Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind comes in second. Fantasy and a bit of fear round out the top five favorite books of all time: in at number 3 is J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and number 4 is that other fantasy series, J.K Rowling's Harry Potter books. In fifth is one of the masters of scary books - Stephen King's The Stand.
Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye rounded out the top 10 favorites. Men chose Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and women selected "Gone with the Wind" as their second-favorite book. In the 18-31 year-old class the Harry Potter series came second, while 32- to 43-year-olds named "The Stand" and Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" as their runner-up. There were other differences according to region but all across the country the Bible came out as the nation's favorite book.
You've got to be kidding-or at least somebody must be kidding. I am glad that there are millions of people across America who love and read the Bible. They are the backbone of the nation. But that most people have it as their favorite book is incredible. Here are a few troubling facts that lead me to believe that many people answered not really truthfully but as they knew they ought to answer.
How many people, even Bible believing Christians, have ever read the whole Bible? Surprisingly few claim to have done so. How many people, even Bible believing Christians, read the Bible every day or frequently and regularly? Again, surprisingly few. How many people have a good working knowledge of the Bible? How many could open the Bible and show an inquirer what the Bible teaches on any of the great subjects with which it deals? How many people actually seek to obey the Bible? How can it be that the Bible is America's favorite book when across the nation there is such a widespread ignorance of or indifference to what the Bible commands us to do?
Then look at the rest of the list of favorites. It is inconceivable that anyone could truly value the Bible and make J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter their next favorite book. How could anyone value the Bible and make the work of atheist Ayn Rand another favorite? Or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code? The thing is incredible.
I believe that this Harris poll tells us more about what most Americans would like to be true of themselves but what they know is not true of them. They know that the Bible is God's word. They know they ought to read it and love it. They know they ought to hear its sublime message. But knowing and doing are very different things. "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." That puts a very different complexion on this national profession to make the Bible our favorite book. The Bible is there to be read, to be believed and to be obeyed. To have it and neglect it is a terrible sin. Spurgeon once spoke of people's Bibles sitting on the shelf unread: "You could trace the word ‘damnation' in the dust on its cover."