Jen Wilkin, Dissonance, and Bible Literacy

2 minute read

There’s a saying, “Never meet your heroes.”

I recently met one of my living heroes during a brief visit to Dallas. Her name is Jen Wilkin. Her voice has been in my ears nearly every week over the last two years via her podcast, Knowing Faith, along with her co-hosts, Kyle Worley and JT English.

I had the privilege of meeting and seeing Jen live out her ministry on a normal week in her church.1 On a rainy Tuesday night, I sheepishly walked into a room of women where Jen was teaching the Bible. Two things stood out me:

  1. She is an incredible teacher.
  2. Like the rest of us, she is trying to faithfully serve the Lord and her church. It was unremarkable in the best way.

Among the many things I appreciate about Jen has been her clarion call for the church to equip and train Christ-followers towards Bible literacy.

“Our highest stated value for many of us in our churches has been community—trying to address this epidemic of loneliness that we see in our society. Many churches have said, ‘Our number-one stated goal is for you to live life with one another.’ But where we can end up with that is with a pendulum swing that renders our churches well-connected communities of biblically and doctrinally illiterate believers.”2
— Jen Wilkin

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from Jen in studying and teaching the Bible is the importance of dissonance. This is something many of us seek to quickly eliminate or avoid altogether. Yet, without it, we cannot expect others or ourselves to learn well.

With this in view, Jen has been known to give adults a quick and straightforward quiz on Bible facts. Pay attention to how you feel answering these questions.

  1. Name the first three Israelite Kings
  2. Where did Jesus grow up?
  3. Who moved from Ur to a country he did not know?
  4. What were the occupations of Cain and Abel?
  5. Who prophesied, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”?
  6. How many books are in the Bible? In the Old Testament? In the New Testament?
  7. How many years of famine did Joseph prophesy to Pharaoh?
  8. What is the name of Jacob’s youngest son?
  9. What is Noah’s first act when he emerges from the ark?
  10. Who are the sons of Zebedee?
  11. How many people were saved on the ark?
  12. Who said to whom, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”?
  13. What type of animal did Balaam ride? (Extra points for King James Version)
  14. Who commanded the sun and moon to stand still?
  15. Which of Jesus’s miracles is recorded in all four Gospels?
  16. What is the other name for Mount Horeb?
  17. What were the names of the mother and grandmother of Jacob?
  18. Which two men were recorded as having never died?
  19. Who made the golden calf?
  20. Which disciple found a coin in the mouth of a fish?

Unsettling, isn’t it?

When I think about my ability to answer arcane trivia questions about The Office compared to my ability to answer questions like these, I feel simultaneously embarrassed and motivated to know the Bible better. The truth is almost none of us know the Bible the way we should.

Jen’s ministry continues to shape and inspire my own. I am glad I met one my heroes.

  1. I intentionally called her “Jan Watkins” to demonstrate my familiarity with her podcast where she has discussed that people have incorrectly called her this in the past. 😆 

  2. YouTube - “Not Your Grandma’s Sunday School Class”