As our cultural elites lose even the most elementary biblical literacy, this is going to happen more and more often: reading the Bible-saturated literature of the past and missing, not secondary and trivial illusions, but
the entire point
of stories and novels and plays and poems, and for that matter paintings and sculptures and musical compositions. The artistic past of the West will become incomprehensible, but — and this is the scary thing —
no one will know
that they’re misreading. Gross errors will be passed down from teacher to student, from scholar to reader, and it is difficult to imagine circumstances arising in which they can be corrected.
— I wrote this a couple of years ago, and I continue to think regularly, almost daily, about this problem. One of the chief tasks of Christians in our time, I think, is to correct errors: to engage patiently and gently in the tedious work of explaining to people that what they think they know about Christianity is simply wrong.