It’s not surprising that before the Reformation few people really understood who God was. The Bible was not generally available to the common people. Although Gutenberg’s printing press had been invented in about 1440, there were few copies of the Bible available at the start of the 16th century. The ecclesiastics, monks and priests, had freer access to the Bible but most of them preferred the “church fathers,” the writings of theologians over the pure Word of God.
Due to the work of the Reformers, Bibles are widely available today.
Guinness World Records states:
- An estimated 5 billion Bibles have been printed since 1815
- The entire Bible has been translated in 349 languages
- Parts of the Bible have been translated in 2,123 languages
What is surprising is the fact that with the Bible so freely available today, so few are familiar with the Word of God. How many Christians prefer to get the Scriptures second-hand from preachers or writers, rather than reading the Word themselves? Barna Group reported in 2014 that while 88% of American homes own at least one Bible, just 37% of Americans say they read the Bible at least once a week. As a result, even in nations with a large population of Christians, most people do not have a clear and Biblical understanding of God’s true character.
Which is not so different from conditions prior to the Reformation.