Category Archives: Bible

REPORT: YOUR/MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

Thanks to all of you who were a part of this unscientific, but still revealing poll.

Here is the previous post with all your votes. Below it is the wrap up and a few reflections.

YOUR/MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

Number of people who participated: 46

Top four books listed:

First place: Psalms received 34 votes

Second place: Genesis received 33 votes

Third place: John received 31 votes

Fourth place: Romans received 27 votes

(Over twenty of you listed all three of the top three books: Genesis, Psalms, and John)

Number of books in the Bible included on someone’s list: 56/66

32/39 in OT (missing I Chron., Ezra, Joel, Obadiah, Nahum, Haggai, and Malachi)

24/27 in NT (missing II Thess., II and III John)

Most surprising book(s) picked: Tie with Numbers and Zephaniah (But it took two professors to include these books!)

Books picked only one time:

Numbers

II Chronicles (Mrs. Moore)

Lamentations (Only picked by yours truly and I am lamenting that fact!)

Hosea

Amos

Micah

Zephaniah

Zechariah

Titus

Jude

“Brother from another mother” vote: Mark Meynell (a writer and teacher in the UK) was the only other one besides yours truly to include both Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk on his list. May his tribe increase!

Most surprising book(s) not picked: For me, there were no real surprises. I did not expect Nahum or III John to make anyone’s list.

It is a good reminder that the entire Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit but that does not mean that every book of the Bible is equally important/relevant.

And yet, it should be said that there are gems everywhere in Scripture so reading through the whole of the Bible is indispensable for knowing where these may be found.

Some other reflections:

This exercise confirmed to me that a “Reading the Bible Fast and Slow” method is a good one. See my description of that method here: 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/january/reading-bible-fast-and-slow.html

I am more convinced than ever that solid growth as a Christian comes from sustained engagement and unhurried reflection on the totality of Scripture.

Having written a commentary on Ecclesiastes I was thrilled by how many put It on their list: fifteen of us!

Another encouragement was seeing how many put I and II Samuel on their lists. These and I and II Kings almost made my own list. Recent meditation on them convinced me even more that they have much to offer.

 

YOUR/MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

I am curious to know the ten, or at most twelve books of the Bible that have made the biggest impact on you. 

Two on my list, and no surprise to many of you, are Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk. I have published a commentary on the former and am hoping to do so with the latter.

My other ten would be: Genesis, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Jonah, John, Acts, and Colossians.

What about you? I would love to know.

I am a big advocate of constantly reading the totality of Scripture, but God moves us in a variety of ways, and some books of the Bible make a bigger impact on us.

Give me your own list.

Only rule is no more than twelve.

 

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS…PERHAPS NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

What’s in a Word?

Last year, I preached a similar sermon in two different churches. It was titled, What’s in a Word? It looked at the biblical boundaries of faith, hope, and love. Three words that we Christians bandy about on a regular basis, but three words that several Christians tell me they are not entirely clear on.

In her elegant and incisive book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, Marilyn McEntire writes:

“Caring for language is a moral issue. Caring for one another is not separable from    caring for words. Words are entrusted to us as equipment for our life together, to help us survive, guide, and nourish one another.”

McEntire goes on to reflect how we have lost the power and purpose of language. She emphasizes that good conversation used to be inextricably wedded to building strong communities. In other words, the loss of care with language means the loss of community.

Christians ought to be caretakers of language, but sadly many of us have abdicated our responsibility here. We are lax with some of the most important words in the Christian lexicon.

Clarifying the Faithfulness of God

I agree with J.I. Packer and others that catechesis is a desperate need for the church in America. When many Christians have murky notions regarding the biblical boundaries of faith, hope, and love, how can we declare a consistent and compelling message?

Sadly, there is confusion about many foundational, Christian truths. Consider the faithfulness of God. I’m sure many reading this article have heard the same thing I’ve heard on many occasions. I’ve heard it during times of “sharing” in church, Sunday school classes, home studies, or even in one on one interaction with a fellow Christian. Some well-intentioned Christian is thrilled to declare how God favorably answered their prayer. Then comes the popular refrain of “Isn’t God good?!” or simply “God is faithful.” God’s faithfulness has seamlessly come to be understood as a prayer being answered in the way we desired.

Sometimes when I am teaching, I ask the following question to fellow Christians: If God answers a prayer in the way we wanted, does that mean the answer was God’s will? There is usually a fair bit of silence as folks realize it probably is not the case, yet most have difficulty in finding the biblical support. Numbers 11 provides a good example. Israel was tired of eating manna. They wanted something else to eat. God granted them their request.  Quail dropped in abundance, but it was not God’s will.

God’s faithfulness is not synonymous with prayers answered in the affirmative nor is it undercut when the answer is in the negative. God is faithful to His promises. The Bible makes it clear that all “the promises of God are yes in Him.” (II Cor. 1:20). He has promised many things and will be faithful to all of them.

Should we then pray for a spouse who is sick? Absolutely. Should we assume it is God’s will to heal them? No. Is God any less faithful if He does not heal our spouse? No. So, is it okay to say God is faithful if He answers our prayer in the way we desire? It can be if we make it clear God would not be any less faithful by choosing not to grant our request. The latter is something I hardly ever hear. There are those rare and wonderful occasions where someone says, “God is faithful,” even though their desired request was not given. This gets my attention.

Knowing that God will be faithful to all He promised is a great comfort and it should make us desirous of growing in our understanding of His Word, so we know what is truly promised. Among many things, I constantly remind myself that “God is righteous and kind in all that He does.” (Ps. 145:17, NASB and ESV; The NIV translates it as “faithful” instead of kind).

I’ve heard Christian leaders encourage people to keep journals so they can “remember all the times God was faithful.” Again, these times are when God came through in the ways we wanted. Don’t misunderstand here. I have kept a regular journal for about forty years.  They are full of answers to my desired requests. They are also full of rantings, questions, frustrations, doubts, despondency, and sadness. And those don’t diminish God’s faithfulness to me in the least.

God certainly answers prayer in the ways we desire at times, but what about when He doesn’t? He is still faithful. Encouraging others to think about God’s faithfulness by recalling when He answered a prayer in the way one desired, results in at least wondering whether God is faithful when the favorable answer never comes.

I try to steer clear of using the word “when” with God’s faithfulness other than recalling the completed work of Christ or one of His clear promises. Asking about “when was God faithful?” at least raises the question of when He might not have been faithful, which is an impossibility.

Our Anchor

Yes, we look back, but we look back to the finished work of Christ. That is where we anchor our confidence. Christ’s work on our behalf demonstrates God’s faithfulness. What God has done for us in Christ is the greatest act of faithfulness for it fulfills His promise, even though Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane with all the implications of that promise. Nothing or no one can take our salvation from us no matter how bad things get (Hab. 3:17-19). It is also why we need not fear those who can merely hurt our bodies but can’t touch our souls (Mt. 10:28).

By all means know that God is faithful but remember to keep clear that His faithfulness is tied inextricably to what He has promised.

Some of Dave’s teaching videos can be accessed at www.mooreengaging.com. Dave’s next books are Stuck in the Present: How History Frees and Forms Christians (Fall 2021, Leafwood Publishers/Abilene Christian University Press) and with Michael Haykin, Odd Couple: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jonathan Edwards Talk about what Matters. Dave can be contacted at www.twocities.org.

 

 

 

 

BART EHRMAN

Bart Ehrman on opening day of class at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)
Okay, hands up…
How many of you believe the Bible is the Word of God? 
Many hands go up
How many of you believe God actually wrote a book?
Still many hands go up
How many of you have read the Bible from beginning to end?
Most hands go down
I’m not telling you the Bible is the Word of God.  You are, so don’t you think you ought to be reading it if you think it is the Word of God!

NOT BEING AN IDOLATER…A BIG DEAL WITH GOD

In I Kings 9:4 God says how Solomon will be blessed if he follows his father David’s example.  You mean, the adulterer and murderer?  Yes, says God.  He had integrity.  Huh?!  The clue seems to be in I Kings 9, verses 6 and 9 in that David was never an idolater.  Job makes much of not being an idolater as well (see Job 6:10). That carries lots of weight with God!

THE TEMPLE AND THE TABERNACLE

The Temple and the Tabernacle is one of those books I can recommend with gusto.

The text of the book is gorgeously accented with loads of pictures. Baker has done a truly stellar job with the production of this book.

Hays is a careful reader of Scripture. He does not make wild claims, yet there are many wonderful insights throughout his book.

I learned much from this book. It is accessible, but loaded with insight.

My safe guess is that it will help you make better sense of the tabernacle and the temple.

A CATHOLIC INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT

As a Protestant with small c catholic sensibilities, there is much to like about this book. I made over 400 notes in the margins.

The writing is clear, the scholarship is impressive, and the various charts and graphs add a lot to the text. 

It is ecumenical in the best sense of that word as it interacts with much scholarship outside the Roman Catholic.

There are certainly areas of disagreement like the immaculate conception and whether Rom. 3:1,2 about the Jews being entrusted with the oracles of God is significant for the extent of the Old Testament canon. I think it is whereas Pitre and Bergsma do not.

All in all, it is a remarkable achievement and one I will be recommending.