Timothy Larsen at Theolog discusses how critics object to different parts of the Bible in different historical periods. The Victorians, not surprisingly, had problems with the pre-clothing era in the Garden of Eden, as well as the Bible’s seeming softness on the dangers of alcohol:
Here, for example, is an argument from a secularist who debated a Christian minister about the merits of the Bible in Philadelphia in 1854: “I cannot see what good it could do posterity, to be told that the first man and woman were both naked and were not ashamed. The thing might be perfectly true, and yet not necessary to be recorded, nor calculated to be of any use when recorded.” Many people today find aspects of the Adam and Eve story difficult to accept, but I imagine it’s been a long time since a spokesperson for any movement objected on the grounds that it could lead people into immodest fantasies. Victorian atheists also condemned the Bible for being soft on the dangers of alcohol and not championing teetotalism.
Timothy goes on to give a personal example. He tells of how he reacted to a passage in Exodus that explains why God will drive out the inhabitants of Canaan a bit at a time, rather than all at once: “the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you.” As a teenager, Timothy thought it strange that God couldn’t drive out the wild animals as well as the people. But as an adult:
The “wild animals” clause is a favorite of mine. It seems to lend itself to a spiritual reading. Is it not true for us all that too much success too quickly means that we are not equipped to handle the complications that are its natural by-products?
Obviously you can read the passage in other ways, as well.
But the point is that the passages pointed to by skeptics—and even the passages that Christians wrestle with—change depending on historical, cultural, and personal context. Easy answers to complex problems don’t always present themselves, but part of becoming a mature Christian involves wrestling with difficult passages.
Via Emerging Pensees.
“Brother Maynard” at Subversive Influence details his thought process for buying a new Bible. What particularly struck us is this paragraph:
Once when he was giving a concert, I heard Michael Card say that he was reading his daughter’s Bible, which he explained that he bought each of his kids a Bible and read it before giving it to them. And as he read it, he made notes in the margins, speaking directly to whichever child’s Bible he was reading… so that years later as they read it, their father would be speaking to them in the margins concerning the text and its application for their lives. I was fascinated by this tradition… I loved it and wanted to do it immediately, but it scares me a little. I figure I’d get 1/3 or 1/2 through the first one, and that’d be it… one kid would get an incomplete effort and the other none at all. Still, it’d be powerful if I had more confidence in my own discipline to be able to finish it.
What an interesting idea.
Dr. Robert Lowery shares how he tries to “read through the New Testament once a month and the Old Testament as least twice a year:”
I read from a variety of translations, but usually I read the NIV six to eight months of the year and then the remaining months I read from a variety of translations–NASB, ESV, NLT, NRSV, etc.)… I buy a paperback of the NIV at the beginning of every year and mark it up quite thoroughly, underlining (at times following a code–blue for God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, black for the beautiful indicatives found in Scripture, red for the imperatives, etc.), drawing happy faces by sections, unhappy faces, puzzled faces, angry faces (Yes, sometimes I don’t like what God says!)… I am captivated by the metaphors the biblical authors use… I write in the margins of my Bible short sentences summing up my thoughts, etc. I read the Bible not only as sacred literature but as literature, paying close attention to the plot, characters, settings, the role of the narrator/author (I have been deeply influenced by Leland Ryken’s How to Read the Bible as Literature and recommend that you read the work not once but several times so that his principles get into your reading DNA)… I write down questions that I want to pursue in a more detailed way…
(Ellipses are his.) The rest of his post answers the why, when, where, and how questions about his reading.
First it was lonelygirl15. More recently it was Michael Eisner. Now a Bible publisher is launching a weekly series on YouTube:
On May 14 B&H Publishing Group’s Holman Bibles division will launch HolmanTV.com, a video blog designed to expose high school and college students to the Holman Student Bible, which releases in July. A series of 3–5 minute weekly video episodes will be posted on MySpace, YouTube and FaceBook, leading viewers to HolmanTV.com to follow the lives of “Holman” and “Gigi,” 20-somethings who are cubicle-bound in Nashville but dreaming of making it big in the music business….
[B&H marketing manager Tim] Jordan said each episode will have a 10-15 second introduction (“like a short TV show”) and will end with a 17-second commercial for the Holman Student Bible. But, Jordan said, “there will be no product shots, no one holding up a Bible. If we make it too heavily commercial they will smell that out and be turned off.”
Technocrat7 at Technocracy unleashed writes about starting a one-year Bible reading plan in the middle of the year:
We’ve already read today’s passages. So far, so good. It’s not the first time that I’ve started studying Joshua in the middle of the book (a few years ago, I started attending a church group while a study of Joshua was underway). Joshua might not be the easier book to start reading in the middle of, but this way we’ll know right away if we start to fall behind.
Noël Piper in 2003 shared how she read the Bible in a year:
I didn’t begin in January. I simply let the Spirit push me into it “any time now.” I began in July.
I started in Hosea and read to the end of the Old Testament. I knew what had become of my efforts before when I had started quite literally, “in the beginning.” I also knew there were chunks of the minor prophets I had never laid eyes on. There’s something intriguing about unknown territory.
I didn’t try to read books in sequence. After Leviticus, I was ready for some adventure in Acts. I completed one book before I began another, except for the Psalms and Proverbs which I read in scattered chunks whenever I wanted to.
Any day is a good day to start reading your Bible.
Crossway is currently selling several Bibles at 50% off, including two One Year® Bibles. These Bibles are “quality seconds,” or slightly used or damaged items that they can no longer sell as new.