Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Overarching Grasp

Often our tendency in reading the bible is to read a few verses and carefully think about them.  I have come to think that reading a large number of verses with less thought is preferable.

It is not that digging into a few verses is wrong.  The approach has a lot of benefit, but the approach fails to let us get a grasp of a chunk of the bible in a sitting.

It has the tendency to allow large scale theological holes to remain because we do not get a sense of the contents of the bible.  To illustrate my point the teaching of Jesus for example in the gospels is often critically misunderstood.

First, there is the misunderstanding about the teaching of Jesus by many that he was not concerned with heaven and hell and his Deity.  All through the gospels this is emphasised repeatedly.  It is at the core of his teaching, and much of his teaching of the poor and ethics  flows from his Deity.

Second, many people miss how radically concerned Jesus is with the poor and systems that oppress the poor.  This is also a large scale concern in the Old Testament, and frequently Israel's troubles with God were for failing to take care of the poor and the widow.  It is frequent to find people who miss this aspect of Jesus' work.

Also surprising to many people is the massive amount of teaching Jesus has on money.  Many people simply are unaware Jesus has anything to say about money.

It is common among bible readers in the church to be biblically illiterate in that they are unaware of many of the important themes in the bible.  The issue is often that they spend large amounts of time on a few verses and miss the overarching themes repeated throughout books in the bible.

Preaching from the pulpit where one or two verses are exposited often is to blame for this tendency in membership.  Often a pastor will do a ten week sermon series on a set of verses and then move on to another sermon series.

This approach in preaching is dangerous because it becomes easy for pastors to decide what is important.  In a span of a year with maybe five to ten sermon series it is quite easy if the pastor is not careful for the church to have heard a relatively small amount of the themes which the bible repeatedly expresses.

Sometimes less is more, but often in the church the study of scripture has become so focused that the bible is poorly covered.  Larger chunks of text faithfully covered will often be of more service to many churches.
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