After a wedding in January of 2013 a friend and I started in Tuscon, AZ, and drove home to Houma, LA. With no need to watch out for party vans, alligators, or Louisiana drivers, driving through Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas quickly became a long, dead-boring journey home.
This is Norway. Besides ice, mountains, and moose, Norwegian roads aren’t so scary (hint: they’re the safest). Once I learned stick shift, these roads were almost fun (until the two-lane road turns into a one-and-a-half-lane road… and there’s a semi coming toward me…). If you’re going to drive for 5 hours, these roads will likely keep you focused and awake while you drive.
The straight roads that run throughout America are easy, and we often treat the Bible as if all doctrines and ideas (that we accept) are an easy straight line from Point A -> Point B.
We give the “I-can’t-believe-you-don’t-understand-my-position” argument while “Haven’t-you-ever-read-the-Bible?” looms in the background.
We want to believe our interpretations are more like the Arizona road than the Trollstigen. And really, unless you know anything about the Norwegian language, you won’t even be able to say Trollstigen correctly. We prefer simple, straight answers over nuance. Why? Because it’s easier. It requires less thinking and we can go on about our day feeling like we have a good grasp on all the Bible has to say, despite how when we crack open our Bibles we still don’t understand what it has to say. We don’t know the story or the framework, and we’re sick at looking at timelines that don’t really help us at all.
We must remember that reading the Bible is no easy journey. We are thousands of years removed both from the New Testament and even more so the Old Testament. These books were written by people who did not have a western mindset.
- Is hell literal?
- Will there be a millennium? Why?
- When will the seven-year tribulation begin?
- How literal is the Bible… and how can I know?
- Babies, adults… what does baptism matter anyway?
- And communion? Why can’t we just eat, drink, and go on with our day?
- If a Christian commits suicide, would they go to hell?
- Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?
- Why should I evangelize if God is sovereign?
- Why should I pray if God is sovereign?
- Will there be a rapture?
- So now that I’m a Christian, I don’t need to read the Law, right?
- What was God doing before he created the world?
- Explain this whole Trinity thing to me again.
- Why is the Bible so difficult to understand?
- Is Genesis 1-11 historical?
- Are spiritual gifts still around today?
- Should Christians observe the Sabbath?
- Did Jesus die for everyone or just the elect?
- How much of this actually affects my every day living?
One thing we all must remember is that it’s not enough to know about God. We must know him. Facts may help you win Sunday morning Bible Trivia, but how should this information spill the beans about God’s character? How do we views facts within the larger portrait of God’s story that we can share with others? How do we discover the Bible’s storyline, and how can we use it to make sense of our lives, individually and corporately with the rest of the Church?
How does Numbers 8 help me to love Christ more? How do I find God’s character in Nehemiah 4? What does Lamentations tell me about God’s mercy and patience? What, if anything, does Isaiah 35-39 tell me about Isaiah’s main message? How does that lead me to love Christ more? Does it matter whether or not I ever read Obadiah? At least I read Jonah. That one’s easy. How can Revelation teach me me to help those who suffer? What does it matter that Jesus is presently ruling at the right hand of God “far above all authority, power, and dominion” (Eph 1.21)? What does it mean to be in Christ, and how am I different because of it?
Reading, studying, and knowing the Bible isn’t driving down a straight two-lane highway in an automatic mustang. It’s driving up, down, and around a one-and-a-half-lane mountainous road in Norway in standard transmission. In the snow. With a moose.* Inside the car.
The Bible is difficult, and we should be humble over our interpretation of different texts. We should continue in the truths of the Gospel and study to know God’s Word, even if there doesn’t appear to be any immediate applicational value. Just because we didn’t “get” anything out of what we read this morning, or because what we’ve learned seems to be information for information’s sake, it doesn’t mean that we’ve wasted our time. All that we read helps to reinforce the broad storyline of Scripture, the deep treasures of Scripture, and the unfathomable immensity of our faithful Lord and Savior.
So to help us understand our King a little better, I have two series that I’ll start soon.
1. God’s Faithful Character
As usual I have some book reviews coming up the pipeline, but I’m also happy to announce that I’m review another course by Rikk Watts called God’s Faithful Character. My friend Lindsay and I will write up some interview-styled posts for each other, so we’ll have a bit of back and forth that this one (as he is also reviewing the lectures on his own blog).
Watts premise is that while Israel’s scriptures (the OT) had a massive influence on the NT writers, do the NT writers then twist Israel’s scriptures? Do they completely ignore the OT context? Are the NT writers reliable?
Aside from the interview-styled posts, I plan to write up a few posts of my own on various ideas Watts brings up. If you haven’t read any of my posts about Watts before, he’s an incredibly brilliant man who just so happens to put great care into the Scripture. He believes that what bridges the Old and New Testaments together is God’s Faithful Character.
I first learned of BibleArc through Lindsay when he taught my Hermeneutics class back in York. I’ll wait until a later post to explain what BibleArc is, but let’s just say it pretty much saved my second round of teaching the 2 Corinthians class. I’ll try to show you a bit on how BibleArc works, and in the end hopefully you’ll come to love it and will want to use it yourself.
*At no point am I saying we must sit around and read theological books all day. While I enjoy reading, I know I can’t read every biblical book and commentary out there (in fact, I don’t even want to). We can and should have hobbies and other interests. But we must be willing to discuss matters with others without treating each other as imbeciles. Though you’ll never know everything about the Bible in this life, you might as well enjoy the view.
P.S. I’ve seen only one moose in Norway thus far. I saw it a few weeks ago while coming home from Oslo.