The Phoenix Preacher Book Review: The Bible
Great book, highly recommended.
I kid because I care…
It’s the one book we all own and that most of us here claim to follow in the precepts it speaks to us.
We argue about it, we refer to it to win arguments, and we act as if it’s sacred.
My question today is “how much do we read it”?
During the course of a week, how much time do you devote to reading what we call “the word of God”?
Do you think you spend enough time in the Scriptures and if not, why not?
I read it daily. Usually researching a particular issue. I find the competing narratives quite undeniable.
I think if most Christians* actually read the whole bible from cover to cover and really dove into it, they wouldn’t be Fundamentalists any longer.
Fundamentalism is a function of pick-and-choose snippets and carefully controlled rhetoric and indoctrinating type rules that superimposes itself over the bible.
If you just read the thing over and over from cover to cover, I’m pretty confident that if you are of average intelligence or greater, you’ll notice that it’s not really what Selective Fundamentalism Cliffs Notes to you in nice little packages on Sunday mornings.
I’ve read it through more times than I can count and study it daily.
I must be a idiot because I am a “fundamentalist”…whatever that means.
Well, Michael, you’re a Calvinist, so you do tend to be more intellectually honest about the fact the bible pins the killing children and infants on God and that God chooses a few Elect and then tortures the rest of humanity in hell forever…so I’d say are more intellectually honest than most Selective Fundamentalists about that clear narrative in the bible.
Thankfully, I have the company of other imbeciles like Calvin, Packer, Luther, Edwards, men who founded universities, men who ran countries, men who contributed greatly to the sciences and other fields despite their stupidity.
This thread has already been hijacked, so no need to discuss it further.
I read a few verses every day, as well as a few devotionals that are based on a passage of scripture each day.
Right now I’m reading through NT Wright’s book on Revelation. So that is about 1/2 chapter a day and commentary. (It’s the first time I’ve read anything other than a dispensational/ pre trib view on the book and I am finding it fascinating!)
I’m proud of you…how are dealing with the challenges of the different way of looking at the book?
It’s a very different perspective…
“God chooses a few Elect and then tortures the rest of humanity in hell forever”
That is not the teaching of Calvinism.
I’ve never been into arguing over “end times” to begin with, other than I know Jesus is coming back one day… but I have really appreciate Wright’s books and so thought I would give this book a go. After reading Hal Lindsey, J Coursen and Left Behind, this is blowing my mind. 😀
I read it many hours a week, which is probably enough, but I certainly don’t apply what I read nearly enough.
I have read the bible through at least 10 times, and I am more convinced than ever that it is the infallible Word of God.
The fascinating thing to me is that the more I read and more specifically the more I study…the more the book draws me in and shows me things I’d never seen before.
I never prepare a teaching where I’m not challenged again by the text.
Yet…my guess is that most spend very little time actually studying the book.
My question is…why?
Right now I probably don’t read The Bible enough, but that’s more a reflection on me than on the text. I could give lots of reasons why(new job, family, busyness of life), but it all boils down to me not placing a greater priority to study.
May the Spirit not only give us time, but may the time He gives be spent in cultivating holiness.
I read at least a chapter a day during the week, and on weekends I get in three chapters. Thankfully, I have a job where I can listen to sermons and podcasts all day, so that helps.
It is a great desire of mine to maybe be in a position to study and teach the Scriptures again one day, but who knows. I remember times when I was unemployed or underemployed and had lots of time to read, meditate, and study and those were grand times. But now my vocation requires me to work and love my neighbor through my work. I wish it was different, but I thank God for my job.
I already read it.
@10, ‘things I’d never seen before’… I agree!
my favorite part of reading is the wide variety of audience I get to read with and study with. Reading the Brick Bible and a couple ‘kids’ picture Bible with my 7 year old or sitting with my older kids and reading verses through and thinking together… our family study on Tues nights, studies at church, reading through in counseling. I am always surprised, no matter how many times I’ve read it through, that I’ll find a ‘surprise’ from a different translation or a question from my kids, or just thinking through something I read while I mow the lawn – that I’ll “notice” something ‘new’ that God wants to show me.
For a book I think I know pretty well, it surprises me very, very often with stuff I didn’t know.
This last year I have been especially thankful that God brought to mind words of comfort and hope when I really needed it.
So, for a book that always expands my thought life, I’ll confidently say more of it will always be better for my heart. I think my definition of study is what is most dynamic lately. Am I studying that sunset, memorizing it, treasuring it or just enjoying it? Artists call their drawing or rendering of a subject or color a ‘study’. A little bit of all of that is happening, and the more of those that happen, the better my ‘study’.
Daily. But how I read affects the outcome. I spent many years reading to study the Scriptures. Before long I’d be in the weeds of word studies. A few years ago we decided in our house we wanted to remove all books or sermons that gave man’s opinion of what is in the Bible and just spent time reading it through to capture the overview of the Word. In other words, we backed up and took the airplane view of Scripture, at 10,000 feet.
Wow! Gotta say this has been healthy for us. We finished reading the Bible through and restarted the New Testament at a slower rate. There’s still a place for study, but we really needed the macro version at this time.
This exercise was very eye opening for us. We now have much less appetite for listening to others’ ideas about what the Scriptures say, probably because we often run into misinformation that people don’t challenge because they don’t know themselves what it says. (Not a condemning statement since there’s a lot in there, just an observation.)
Patrick…I think God is just getting started with you.
Rob, that last paragraph was priceless…
I watched the video…does that count? 😉
That’s typically the rationale of my seventh graders to assigned reading. I’ve read it through numerous times too…with several different agendas. I don’t know what that makes me. I do know that I think ‘biblically’ when reading other materials because my mind is conditioned to draw connections with what I’ve spent a lot of time doing. American and English literature is full of biblical analogies, symbolism, and metaphors. Simply from a practical standpoint, one cannot be a scholar in Western literature without a working familiarity of the Bible.
On the other hand, I’ve not spent much time reading the Bible since I took my hiatus from the church several years ago. I recently came to the conclusion that, if the Word of God is living and active, it imparts those qualities to those who read it. My intention is to resume some schedule of reading without an agenda. Ask me later if I followed through.
I did the same thing a couple of years ago…and realized that in some ways I wasn’t able to see the forest for the trees.
Good exercise…almost a discipline, I think.
My devotional habits currently are trashed. I pretty much read to teach and preach. I teach enough that it keeps me reading but these days I read much more theology, blogs and internet news than scripture.
I think you need to be teaching the book…in your spare time, of course. 🙂
I could never read the Bible ‘enough”….. I do the roulette method much of the time. Open and read. Between the memory loss of ‘old age’ and the seas of difficulties I have experienced in the last 15 years, I feel like I ‘know’ less ‘about’ the Bible, but possibly “know” the Author better.
Michael @ 4 “Thankfully, I have the company of other imbeciles like Calvin, Packer, Luther, Edwards”
-Come over here a minute.
“Why, what’s up?”
-Another one of them newcomers is arguing with Jesus about correct doctrine again.
-Yeah, they just won’t accept that the church fathers didn’t have all the answers.
“Stubborn aren’t they? Well, pass the popcorn, we might be here awhile”
Excellent exercise in missing the point.
RB thinks that people that believe in “fundamentalist” doctrines are unintelligent.
I was simply pointing out that some of the most intelligent people in history were Bible believers.
Michael @ 24 “I was simply pointing out that some of the most intelligent people in history were Bible believers.”
Intelligence is a rather subjective beast. I would contend that we are all relatively stupid and once we began using our own intelligence as a barometer for properly dividing scripture (and passing it on to others as “correct”) is precisely when the de-unification of the body of Christ began.
The church fathers were “so intelligent” that they destroyed the body of Christ and split it into pieces. Yup, real smarts there.
Unfortunately you weren’t there to set us all straight… he said as sarcastically as humanly possible…
The church fathers were “so intelligent” that they destroyed the body of Christ and split it into pieces. <<<
Which church fathers are you talking about?
I also read everyday. I enjoy the time I have in devotionals. Also, I have a habit of conducting Greek word studies. The more I learn the more I see I need to learn. I consider myself a poor student of Scripture as I have wasted a lot of time trying to get information. So, at 61, I continue to read and study so I can know Him. Only took me 40 years.
For those who read every day…
How do you decide what to read or study or whatever you’re doing?
I don’t spend enough time in scripture because there are so many topics covered in scripture and I’ve only skimmed the surface of some topics. I regret that I have come to faith in midlife, because I have no realistic possibility of acquiring even a reasonable understanding of scripture within my remaining life. Notwithstanding the foregoing, my study of scripture has been both life changing and a blessing, so I’m carrying on with zeal to try to understand and grow closer to God and my Lord through study of scripture.
I have a schedule I developed that takes me through from beginning to the end. Then, at the beginning of the year, I start at the beginning (Genesis) all over again.
Been reading through the Old Testament again and again. Very interesting stuff in there.
I love this passage. A bunch of kids heckle Elisha and he puts a curse on them and they get eaten live by bears. I bet Chuck was hoping for that kind of curse, but it didn’t take for some reason…
“23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.”
Many Fundamentalists are stuck in this Old Testament smite thine enemy, “we are prophets so we curse thee heathen who question us or criticize us” mindset.
Wish they’d have taught this one in Sunday school…all sorts of good stuff LOL:
Genesis 38: 1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.
6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.
11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.
12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.
13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”
“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.
17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.
“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.
18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.
20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”
“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.
22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”
23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”
25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”
26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.
27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.[a] 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.[b]
Michael said, ‘I was simply pointing out that some of the most intelligent people in history were Bible believers.”
The context was Fundamentalists and your statement is factually incorrect. There aren’t many highly intelligent folks who believe in the typical Fundamentalist slant on the bible.
Michael, the science is in on the issue of intelligence and Christian Fundamentalists/Literalists. The studies show a consistent correlation between Fundamentalists demonstrating a lower IQ.
Here’s just one example that is peer-reviewed and in a scientific journal: “In 2008, intelligence researcher Helmuth Nyborg examined whether IQ relates to denomination and income, using representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which includes intelligence tests on a representative selection of white American youth, where they have also replied to questions about religious belief. His results, published in the scientific journal Intelligence, demonstrated that atheists scored an average of 1.95 IQ points higher than agnostics, 3.82 points higher than liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than dogmatic persuasions.”
Liberal Christians score higher than Fundamentalists, though Atheists and Agnostics score higher than both.
All that shows is that they have God given higher intelligence that they piss away.
Do you really believe that IQ measures intelligence? It only measures a capacity for intelligence (you should know this since you know everything else in the world) . I went to college with many high IQ people that could barely tie their own shoes.
I will chalk it up to a rookie mistake on your part.
Also, what kind of devotional or studies do you guys suggest that are more than simple full in the blanks that require no thought and seminary level books requiring knowledge of Greek or Hebrew.
N.T. Wright has a series called “( Book ) For Everyone” on books of the Bible and it’s really good for laymen.
Pick one and work through it…I think you’d enjoy it.
None of us will live long enough to learn all we could…just keep plugging away.
If we can help, let us know.
“It is a great desire of mine to maybe be in a position to study and teach the Scriptures again one day, but who knows.”
Me too, Patrick. May God grant you that desire in His way and time.
Studying the shop manual to your car may help. But how well your car runs is the idea. Some memorize the manual, but cannot fix their car.
Of course the scripture is more than information, though. It is living food.
“Between the memory loss of ‘old age’ and the seas of difficulties I have experienced in the last 15 years, I feel like I ‘know’ less ‘about’ the Bible, but possibly “know” the Author better.”
Paige, oh my goodness, I can SO relate to this. I began having difficulty with my memory about 5 years ago when the Fibro kicked in. Even if I study for hours on end, then take those study notes and preach more than once in a week, don’t ask me about it the following week, because I won’t be able to tell you much unless I have my notes in front of me. On the other hand, God has been so sweet to me these last few years, and His nearness is what keeps me going.
Reading the Bible enough? Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. Thanks to Steve Brown’s teachings on freedom and grace, I don’t think I’ll even try. That’s not to say that I’m going to stop reading it, just that I’m not going to get all worked up and bummed out when I go through a slump.
I’ve never kept track of how many times I’ve read the Bible. I haven’t read it straight through from Genesis to Revelation. Not sure I’ve ever read all of Leviticus, at least not intentionally. If I had to estimate, I’d say I’ve read all the New Testament books at least 10 times, and the same for Psalms. There are some Psalms I’ve probably read hundreds of times.
Many years ago, I read and enjoyed Walter Wangerin’s chronological paraphrase. I think it was simply called The Book of God. I’d like to read a chronological Bible in one of the newer versions, perhaps NLT.
Good word @ 42
“All that shows is that they have God given higher intelligence that they piss away.”
Yep, MLD, and then they show up on the Phoenix Preacher and piss on an otherwise great thread.
Not sure I’ve ever read all of Leviticus, at least not intentionally.
That struck me funny.
As someone who taught through the book of Leviticus…all the more funny.
I stole Kay’s joke to Chuck from the past…once you get through Leviticus, it’s all downhill from there. 🙂
Shout out to Jean,
Not to sound like an ad for The Teaching Company, but if you are in a position to listen to Bible studies of those going through the books of the Bible with their churches, you can learn a lot in just 30-60 minutes a day.
Many churches have their messages online for free.
“It is a great desire of mine to maybe be in a position to study and teach the Scriptures again one day, but who knows.”
I think I’m going to start a series teaching all the portions of the bible that Fundamentalist evangelical christianity* largely ignores. It’ll be pretty interesting…
May I highly recommend the various waterproof Bibles out there; my hot tub plus a waterproof Bible (optional: add the “rite as rain” waterproof notebook) has been AMAZING.
I can’t answer my phone, get a snack, do much other than sir there and focus…
Varying amounts per day, writing down everyone Jesus met in Luke currently.
I used to read it for two hours every morning through Bible College… after everything that happened, I haven’t had a devotional since 2005.
I’ve even tore up that same Bible after a weeping-prayer session. I couldn’t stand having a relationship with a book and not with a person. I put the pieces into a plastic bag and it’s in my room… but I can’t bring myself to approach it the way I did in the past… as if it was some magical book that can change my life the more I sit and read.
I have read the Scriptures and still consider them truth… but its extremely hard not to be hurt by the words used to harm me.
It is also amazing how much I have retained. I can quote Scripture and references with lightning speed… and most of my peers assume I’m in it all the time.
But those who know me well know the truth. And the truth is I am hurt by it, and wish I wasn’t.
Had a buddy and I knew it was coming and I can tell you know I feel so much more free than ever before. I have known this guy for decades we lived together for years in ministry houses. But there was something, I always had to hide my fears and questions because you could not be too far out of the pail of orthodoxy. Well Facebook lets you spew out all your ideas but they have real world effects. But I am truly really happy. I am tired of lying. I still call myself a Christian but I refuse to believe what I was taught back in the day. Our eschatology was skewed and twisted and it hurt many people. I refuse to think I worship Satan because I think the ToE has some validity and great deal of validity for that matter. We dont live in a 10, 000 year old universe, we just dont. But I dont hold them as dogmatic that’s the other side of the fence not mine. I dont think there is a giant Gay conspiracy looking to indoctrinate our children or that the Jesuits are out to sell our souls to the devil.
I am willing to learn, be rebuked, shown evidence, yes I consider the bible evidence, where I am wrong and I am willing to change. Even chuck it all and go back to the things I use to believe. The other side is not. So I had to say goodbye, we are still friends I guess, but this has been a defining moment in my life. It is freeing. He was one reason I still held on. But he messaged me, what I say is offensive and false, I am in danger he is worried about me. I did apologize to my small facebook discussion group, that is not a forum for airing such ideas and I refuse to offend those people because I care. An aside, they were not very apologetic when they offended the hell out of me on a regular basis to be honest. I am truly thankful for this release it was one of those things that hurt. I know he cares, so do I. I am tired of being the heel. I always had to shut up while we burned books, gave credence to Dave Hunt, Mike Warnkee and to some degree others such as Chuck Smith.
I dont feel offended or even angry, just relieved. I have done this in the past but I want this one to stick. I so appreciate what Michael has allowed me to do, I came here because my entire life was destroyed and I lost my faith in God. It broke my heart deep down when I was kicked out of the organization I worked in. It killed my soul I cried for literally years over it. This is the first time since then I can let go. I was never part I was always someone on the outside. I wept for years thinking my inability to witness to my family was the reason they went to hell, how my nephew was never welcomed in my church community and I could not get even a tiny bit of understanding or forgiveness.
But I need a new life and this is not it. I keep going over the same ground and it kills me. Not any more. Take care I am deeply thankful but I need to break away. I have said some very stupid things, whined and sniveled and made a fool out of myself. But it helped me. Be seeing you and praying for you. God bless.
It seems every time I sit down and read here I just wish I had more time to come and dialog.
Ryan…at #49, although I did not have the same experiences, I came away from college “numb” to the Bible. I spent a fair amount of time just ignoring it in my personal life. Honestly, it was not until sitting under Gordon Fee’s teaching that it began to come alive again…began to be a book that spoke life to me and something that I wanted to read as more than just an informational source. Most of that was because I saw in him and in Packer and Peterson and Charles Ringma and others at Regent an affection for not simply a book, but for a God of the Word.
Now, I still falter in how “disciplined” I am in my personal reading and I know I do not spend as much time as I should. I get a fair dose of being in the Bible through church and through our homegroup and preparation for that, but this year I began developing our own Bible curriculum for homeschool.
The first year we are simply taking an overview of each book…working fairly quickly and just hi-lighting all the main characters and the sweep of the story. The process is similar to what Chili mentioned above and it has me back reading daily and listening to some deeper lectures for background.
I find, now that I am 20 years out of college, that my affection for not just the Bible, but for the fact that we have a God who is revelatory and willing to communicate in such an intimate way…in a way that is simple and yet vastly complex…has grown to redeem the callouses that I developed during college.
I think we need the mixture…we need those with incredibly simple and yet pure faith that humbles us…most of us know someone like that. Someone who has no degrees and probably has never heard the names we toss around, but who knows their Bible and who knows the Author. Someone who reads with affection and with humility and with hope and with faith…and it shows. We need that simple faith. And most of us here deal with intellectual struggles, and we need those who also think deeply and struggle and wrestle with Scripture…and yet still are filled with affection for the Author and with hope and faith.
see…I need to have more time so I don’t try to cram everything into one post! Now I have to run to pick up Steve’s truck that died at hockey practice last night. Whew. Thankful to still have AAA for towing!!!
I learned the hard way what many pastors discover. There is a sort of danger in only interacting with Scripture with a goal in mind. While studying to teach or understand are good things, I think serious time should be spent just reading without agenda. God has surprised me many times when I’ve chosen to simply imbibe the words of life.
Satan has obviously read the scriptures too. His scriptural interchange with Jesus in Matthew 4 is fascinating.
Jesus’ response and correction of Satan’s deliberate situational misappropriation of scripture obviously demonstrated the high value he (Jesus) placed on the scripture too.
I find that ‘daily’ Bible reading is really not called for. I am sure that most people who start doing so feel bound to it after a while and feel less than Christian if they stop.
Early Christians – probably through the Reformation and beyond knew nothing of daily Bible reading. I am sure that most only heard the Bible read during the Sunday church service.
The commands to study and read are given to church leaders and not the masses. I just wish the church leaders would read and study more so that they didn’t sound so goofy in the pulpit.
I do spend 10 hours per week prepping for my 75 min Sunday morning Bible study. But it is not 10 hours in the Bible.
Do you think you spend enough time in the Scriptures and if not, why not?
I don’t spend enough time reading, praying over it, thinking about it, comparing scripture to scripture, learning about God’s character and basking in His love. Not enough. Never enough. I don’t know why not unless it’s because I’m lazy and undisciplined. My first pastor told me to read God’s word every day and talk to Him every day.
Re: Michael @ 19
Yes, instead of eating the “elephant” one bite at a time, I stood back and actually looked at the whole “elephant.” It was a very different view and that surprised me.
St. John Chrysostom (compiler of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy) on the benefits of regular Bible-reading:
@rickybobby Have fun with that! You’ll probably develop a large following too.
Why not just focus on whether or not Christ actually rose from the dead for awhile instead of finding loopholes to disbelieve and try to lead others into disbelief?