Once in a Bible study at church, a guy said something that has become paradigmatic for me: he said that in following Jesus, we always have to stick to the basics. We have to continually revisit the basics of the faith so that we do not fall like a massive tree with no roots. Sticking to the basics does not keep you from taking advanced courses in theology, but losing the basics of the gospel often comes when we forget simple human realities, let alone basic Christian realities. I see this a lot as I have traveled and lived overseas: cross-cultural information in books and on the internet helps, but I basically have to throw all that out and start over again when I deal with real people. Even though I have to throw it out, I get to go pick through the garbage when I get ready for the next go round. Continue reading Stick with the Basics: On Study and Learning
First, a particularly helpful post from Doug Wilson, wherein he explains why most Christians don’t read their Bibles, even though they think they do, and why they really need to:
Proper Bible study must always be preceded by thorough reading. Most mistakes in interpretation are caused because the context of the passage is neglected. In most cases, the context is neglected because it is not read. Often new Christians are introduced to certain “narrow” types of Bible study (memorization, Bible study guides, etc) without having any idea of what the Bible as a whole is all about. This causes several problems. First, someone could “study” the Bible for years in this fashion without ever really learning. Secondly, this ignorance is seldom dealt with because it is hidden behind an impressive array of Bible quotes. When a Christian quotes a passage out of Hosea from memory, it rarely occurs to others to wonder if he has ever read Hosea. If he hasn’t (as is frequently the case), he cannot know the context of the passage he quotes. This is because he learned it off a little white card and the card has no context. Continue reading Atheist Bible Studies
Oversimplification. Exaggeration. Outright fabrication. Where will you find all this? Aside from the obvious answers, I’d like to add a couple more: Church sanctuaries during the Sunday morning sermon. Bible studies. Youth groups. I can’t count the number of times a Bible story has been subtly (or not so subtly) tweaked to better convey a point the speaker wishes to make. I’ll bet you’ve had similar experiences: Maybe it’s David, the master of bare-handed bear and lion wrestling, portrayed as a tiny weakling (think Tiny Tim without the crutches), or maybe it’s this dude who’s been crippled his entire life being held up as a world-class example of whiny whiners. A complex individual who really existed is twisted, warped, and reduced to a single characteristic (which may or may not even be true), all for the sake of making a point. Continue reading Twisted Stories
[Note: Since other writing projects took up my time today, I’ve decided to repost this entry from last November. Its one of the few entries that I’ve written that I consider to be worth rereading (and reimplementing).]
This post contains a four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.
After reading the entire post the vast majority of readers will snicker at such a hyperbolic claim and never implement the method I outline. A smaller number will consider the advice intriguing, my assertion only a slight exaggeration, and will also never implement the method. A tiny minority, however, will recognize the genius behind the recommendation and apply it to their own life. This group will later say that my claim was an understatement.
This post is written for those people.
In late August I stumbled across a variation of the four steps in a blog post by Fred Sanders. I implemented his recommendation that day and have followed the process almost daily since then. Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Sanders in person and telling him how his post had transformed my life. My hope is that at least one other person will follow this advice and experience the same transformative affect.
Before I reveal the four steps I want to reiterate that while the advice could transform your life, it most likely will not. As with most life-altering advice, it is simple, easy to implement, and even easier to ignore. Statistically speaking, the odds are great that you’ll ignore this advice. Therefore I encourage you to stop reading now; you’ll only be wasting your time reading further.
For the one or two people who will find this useful, the four steps that will transform your worldview are: