Category Archives: Bible

MY FELLOW AMERICANS…READ THIS BOOK!

 

Image result for misreading scripture with western eyes

I am coming to this terrific book about five years after its publication, so no long review here.  I will say it is an extremely well done piece of work, both witty and wise, entertaining and educational.  You will learn a lot about Scripture and yourself by reading it!

American Christians are especially in dire need of reckoning with this fine book.

https://www.amazon.com/Misreading-Scripture-Western-Eyes-Understand/dp/0830837825/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

BIBLE LESSON FROM JUDGE SCALIA

 

Image result for Antonin Scalia with bible

Judge Antonin Scalia was well-known for saying that if you are allow the evidence to take you where it goes, then some of your legal decisions will not be to your liking.

There is an important lesson for those of us who seek to know what God is truly saying in His Word.  Is everything we think the Scripture says to our liking?  If so, we are in need of reevaluating the way we interpret Scripture.

READ (SOME) COMMENTARIES LIKE REGULAR BOOKS

https://www.amazon.com/Message-Jeremiah-Bible-Speaks-Today/dp/0830824391

Commentaries on books of the Bible are not created equally.  You have to be shrewd in what you consult.  The better ones come in all different types from the devotional to the technical. 

My favorite ones are those who combine great care with the text of Scripture, are well-written, and offer many connections to our own time and day.  Right now, I am reading one of these kinds of commentaries: Christopher Wright’s terrific work on Jeremiah.  It is part of The Bible Speaks Today series (InterVarsity Press).  Here is something I pondered today:

“The reign of King Josiah was a time of great religious fervent and national resurgence.  It was all very impressive.  But what was God’s point of view?  According to Jeremiah God sees a people who are a disappointment to God, who are being disloyal to their covenant relationship with God, who are already feeling the shock of disasters that foreshadow worse to come, and who are living in brazen denial and delusion.  It is a frightening mirror to hold up to the people of God in any generation, with stark relevance to our own.”  (Emphasis added)

 

SUFFERING BIBLE: CRITICAL REVIEW

Here is my Patheos review of a new Bible:

I am currently writing a book (and speaking in various places) about what it means to trust God when suffering intersects our lives. It is the culmination of thirty years of wrestling with the issue…and not just theoretically.

My dear friend, John, who himself has experienced much suffering recommended this new Beyond Suffering Bible. (https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Suffering-Bible-NLT-Struggles/dp/1414395582) The good folks at Tyndale graciously sent me a copy.

I received a paperback version. I’m not sure whether the thin pages apply to other versions, but this one has extremely delicate paper. As an inveterate note-taker, I would prefer thicker paper. I know the arguments against thicker paper, but that is definitely my preference.

The idea behind this Bible is terrific. Joni Eareckson Tada is a great model to lead this project. Her reflections, which pepper the text throughout, are realistic, joy-filled, and honor God. Other contributors add their own reflections.

My main disappointment is with the scant commentary. Some significant verses related to suffering are passed over (e.g. Job 2:13; II Cor. 7:6), verses that are commonly taken out of context receive no commentary (Jer. 29:11; Lam. 3:22,23), and other verses commonly taken out of context receive too little commentary (Rom. 8:28; I Cor. 10:13). For this last example, the commentator does not commit the common error of saying I Cor. 10:13 is a proof text for “God never giving you more than you can handle.” I am glad for that, but it is unfortunate that the commentary here did not make clear that the context is addressing idols. The promise is that God will never allow us to be unduly tempted to believe loyalty to idols is our salvation rather than the true God.

Since many Christians struggle with the reality that God has indeed given them more than they can handle, this is a crucial area that should have been addressed.

I like the heart behind this Bible, but further editions should include many other relevant verses on suffering, and offer more teaching on popular verses we thought we knew already.

 

 

 

STOP READING BITS OF THE BIBLE!

From Richard Hays:

“The Bible is just not a collection of little verses or tidbits of wisdom. When we’re reading the Gospel of Luke, for example, we’re reading a text that has a narrative shape to it. To see what’s going on in the text, you have to read the thing whole and see how the parts relate to the whole.

And the same thing applies not only to individual gospels but also, analogously, to the Bible as a whole. It has a deep and subtle narrative unity—not because unity has been superimposed by ecclesial fiat or by some clever editorial design, but because the diverse biblical witnesses bear common witness to God’s grace-filled action in the story of Israel. The emergence of the biblical writings themselves, in their complexity and diversity, is itself part of God’s mysterious “authorial” action. That’s why I believe that the Old Testament and the New have an underlying narrative unity that can be discerned only in retrospect, when we read the whole thing together.”

The rest is here:http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2016/novdec/deep-and-subtle-unity-of-bible.html?paging=off

SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS RELIGION

https://www.amazon.com/Seriously-Dangerous-Religion-Testament-Matters/dp/1481300237

There are many things to like about Provan’s book.

The writing is lucid and engaging. Provan is an author who wants his readers to understand his arguments. You don’t scratch your head wondering what he really means. This seems rather basic, but if you read a lot you learn it is not something you can always assume.

Provan is certainly tethered to Scripture, but I appreciated his integrative approach. Provan uses a wonderful array of sources from history, philosophy, and popular culture.

One of my favorite things about the book are the contrasts Provan teases out between Christianity and other world religions. These insights are worded in a way that I have not seen in any other book. They provide compelling testimony to the uniqueness of Christianity.

I don’t agree with the author on some matters, such as the extent of the Fall’s effects. However, even when I did disagree with Provan, it got me thinking in new ways that were beneficial.

Last, I read this book because I thought it would show how the more difficult claims of/about God, especially in the Old Testament, were compatible with His grace. There is some of this for sure, but I would have liked to see more interaction with the thornier issues in the Old Testament.

All in all, an extremely worthwhile read.

DON’T MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE…

I am a big believer in memorizing Scripture.  It is one discipline I’ve kept at for forty years now.  I am deeply grateful for wonderful models who valued the importance early on of hiding Scripture in my heart.

So is my subject line a joke?  Yes and no.

Many people tell me they just don’t have a good memory so memorizing Scripture is tortuous.  To quote Bob Newhart, I tell them to “Stop it!”

Rather, meditate on Scripture.  Keep chewing on it.  Divide up the phrases.  Mull over individual words.  By doing so, you will begin to have passages memorized.

So don’t start out by trying to memorize.  Meditate frequently.

But do review what you have memorized.  Review is crucial.  I know many people who have memorized even long passages only to lose it later on because they made no time for regular review.

HOW ARE WE DOING?

“Popular agnostic Bart Ehrman, religious studies professor at UNC Chapel Hill, starts one of his courses with a class exercise.1 He begins, “How many of you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?” According to professor Ehrman, the majority of students at UNC raise their hands. Then he asks, “How many of you have read [and he will select a popular novel]… The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins?” Usually, every hand goes up across the room, with only a few exceptions. Ehrman follows with a third question, “How many of you have read the entire Bible?” And virtually no one raises his or her hand. Then comes Ehrman’s punch. He inquires, “Now I can understand why you would read Collins’ book. It’s entertaining. But, if you really believed God wrote a book, then wouldn’t you want to read it?” Ehrman thus exposes the inconsistency with what these students say and with what they do.”

(Tony Merida, “Preach the Word, Build the Church,” May 16, 2016)