Tag Archive: Bible


The Bible in a Year

A few years ago, I decided to read the entire Bible in one year. I was surprised at some of the insights I was able to get out of it.

The advantage was that you get what the Bible is saying in context: not individual texts lifted out like some sort of blessing box verse, but the whole sweep of the Bible’s narrative while it’s fresh in your mind. You get much more of a feel for what it is telling us. It was, and continues to be, a life changing experience.

I’ve slowed down a little, but continue to read it daily: It has been so profitable and encouraging I just can’t stop.

What stuck out after taking big gulps of the Bible? One thing that was striking was my view of God in the Old Testament:

– God is fair, and God is Love. If He’s mad, it’s because people are unfair or unloving.

– That people matter. They really do.

– That the moral law is not something we made up, but is as real and objective as mathematics. That it has a Source. Good really is good, and evil is, well, evil.

– That God is a covenant making God. He makes promises to His people, and that He is faithful.

– That He always has shown grace, even in the Old Testament.

I was also able to see how well the Old Testament meshes in with the New. How many of the promises made to Israel find their consummation in Christ, and how the promises made to the nation of Israel now open up to include anyone – Jew and Gentile – who will trust in Israel’s Redeemer.

– The New Testament, besides the gospel narratives (the actual teachings, work, and resurrection of Christ) shows us, especially in St Paul’s writings, the logic of redemption, and how it all fits together.

– That God is relational: the individual’s decision to trust God is crucial.

– That even Christians are still human and can get it wrong. Much of the New Testament contains letters written to correct imbalances that were showing up in the young churches.

– That there is an end to History. That death really has been defeated, and that we were made for happy endings because there is one.

– That despair is not an option. That there really is hope and meaning for life.

Just a few thoughts. If you haven’t Read the whole Bible, I’d encourage you to do it. Read the New Testament first, and Psalms and Proverbs. Don’t let some parts (the geneologies in Chronicles and some of the more nit picky rules in Exodus and Leviticus come to mind) bog you down. Set aside a little time, every day, and read. It takes a while to develop the habit, but it’s really worth the trip.

There’s a Greek legend about a fellow names Procrustes, a rogue blacksmith from Attica. He had an iron bed, and he would force people to lie on it. If they were too short, he would stretch them until they fit; if too tall he would cut off their legs.

I wonder if we don’t sometimes do this with our own beliefs. People talk about finding a religion they like as if truth was something they could find at a supermarket; or if they already have a religion, of altering it until they are comfortable with it.

The problem is the nature of truth doesn’t allow this. If truth is really… well, true, it can’t be a matter of our own preferences. It has to be beyond opinion. It can be discovered, but not created.

We are told to be tolerant of other belief systems…
but what do you mean by tolerant? Accept all as equally true? That’s logically impossible, and quite useless if we want to discover anything real. By nature truth is exclusive; if one thing is true, its opposite must be false, just as it is possible to get a wrong answer in math.

But if tolerance means to allow others to believe differently and to put up with them in love – even when you are convinced they are wrong – that’s different; this kind of tolerance is the basis of a free and civil society.

But all belief systems – not just Christianity – must be open to examination and questioning; to prohibit this in the name of political correctness is to stifle free thought, to become less civilized and more totalitarian. And to try to convince by rational argument is not the same thing as to indoctrinate.

Christianity asserts reasoned freedom of choice, regardless of what its detractors may say; and even a casual reading of scripture makes this plain. It insists that those who come to Christ do so after considering the evidence for and consequences of discipleship. We are to “count the cost”.

This is why I don’t understand people who can look at what the Bible plainly says and then quibble about its interpretation. Are people honestly trying to figure out what the Bible is really saying, or is it a disingenuous attempt to twist it to fit how we have already decided to live? We want to be “spiritual” – but we want it on our terms. Whatever else you want to call it, it’s not discipleship.

And so we become Procrustes – but instead of lopping off an arm or a leg, we chop up the Bible to fit our own standard.