Posts Tagged ‘Bible Speak’
Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches
By D. Jeffrey Bingham
Publisher: Kregel Academic
There is an old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover…” and this is true with Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches. When I ordered this book, it was on the basis of the subtitle with consideration to the words biblical, historical, and practical. While I found this book informative, I did not find it biblical, historical, or practical. I will qualify my findings based on the subjective definition of all those words.
Eschatology by Bingham is one side of a box. The Christian tradition is rich and diverse as is the Jewish tradition from which Christianity is derived. When I considered “biblical” and “historical,” I was expecting a thorough treatment of the subject of Eschatology, which is defined as “The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” I suppose I did get treatment on the subject, but it was very narrowly defined and almost exclusively from one perspective and tradition and that being Protestant and Reformed. While this was not totally unexpected, it was rather disappointing considering again the subtitle. I was hoping for a more inclusive and expansive treatment of the subject. As such, the material was presented in such a way that an unsuspecting reader might assume the dispensational view of biblical “final things” is the only way to understand and interpret the Scriptures.
It was my hope that the presentation of material would be more comprehensive and delivered in an objective manner, allowing the reader to make an informed decision on what theory they might understand as “more practical.” Unfortunately, this is/was not the case.
In fairness, the material, narrowly defined as it might be, was presented well. I appreciated the essay format with multiple authors. Likewise, I appreciated the effort and attempt at including a historical perspective although as a church history buff I noticed immediately how exclusionary the material actually was.
I am encouraged, challenged, and humbled by these thoughts from St. Augustine regarding the holy Scriptures.
The sermons of Ambrose convinced me that all those deceptive knots others had tied around the Scriptures could be untied. As I listened to him, I was ashamed that I had been barking all those years, not against the Church but against imaginary doctrines. I had impulsively spoken against things I should first have learned more about. The Church never taught the things I accused her of teaching. It was refreshing to hear Ambrose repeat so often to his congregation, the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
He drew aside the veil of mystery and made clear the spiritual meaning of things which could not be accepted literally. I disagreed with nothing he said, but there were some things I still could not understand. I resisted because I wanted to be as sure of spiritual things as that seven and three equal ten.
Lord, with a gentle and merciful touch you worked on my heart. I thought of the many things I believed which I had not seen, or which happened when I was not present—so much history, so many facts about places I had never visited, so many things mentioned by others. Daily living requires belief in these things. Most of all, I was impressed with the fact that I believed I was the child of particular parents on no other authority than that I had been told it. What is so different about accepting the authority of the Bible? Since we are not able to discover the truth by reasoning, we need the Scriptures. The Bible speaks to all in clear language, and yet it also demands the close attention of scholarly minds.
I thought about these things and you were near me. I sighed and you listened. I wandered along the broad road of the world, but you did not forsake me. -Augustine (354-430AD); Confessions
One says, “Moses meant what I say.” Another disagrees, “No, he meant what I say.”
It seems to me that it is nearer to the truth to ask, “Why can’t he have meant both? And if someone would see a third or a fourth or any number of meanings in the same language, why can’t we believe that Moses meant them all?” God has adapted the Bible to many interpretations.
Without a doubt—and I do not hesitate to speak from my heart—if I had to write with such great authority I would attempt to write in a way that my words would communicate as much truth as possible to each reader. I would not write down one true meaning so obvious that it would prohibit any other meaning, even though there was nothing offensive in the alternate interpretations. -Augustine (354-430AD); Confessions
My Favorite Christmas Gifts from 2012
The past couple of weeks have been a great blessing to me, especially with a few of the wonderfully awesome Christmas gifts I received. These gifts will be giving throughout the year and then for years to come, I am sure. Wait. Let me clarify and qualify those last statements. My favorite gift, hands down, is my ability (God provided) to be in relationship with the Triune God through Jesus Christ. Coming in next, are my wife and my sons…followed closely by my health. Now, we can proceed to the more trivial and material things *wink*
In no particular order, my favorite material things I received this year follow:
The only thing this Bible is missing is a longer name…wait, it has that too. Seriously though, this is a wonderful Bible and I really like several things in this version. First, I really like the New Living Translation for reading. In my opinion, the NLT is the best reading version on today’s market. Second, I prefer reading chronologically over any other reading plan when I’m reading for story purposes; that is, trying to stay connected to the meta-narrative of Scripture. In addition to these reasons, the Life Application Bible helps to keep me connected to the Scripture and stirs me to respond to the words I am reading. Many other features in this study Bible make it one of my new favorites. I love the timeline system that flows through every page, which helps me to correlate the flow of God’s revelation to man through the Hebrew people as it laid over the global timeline of man. There are also hundreds of notes, maps, section introductions, sidebars, charts, and outlines. My tentative goal is to read this Bible through 2013 along with another Bible I received for Christmas.
This is another gift I received for Christmas; The New Revised Standard Version Bible is a Daily Reading Bible is set up for 365 daily readings. Each of the readings is accompanied by an excerpted writing from a Christian spiritual classic. Some of the classic writings include Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Frederick Buechner, Henri Nouwen and others. This Bible is geared toward the promotion of contemplative reading and prayerful meditation upon the text. I plan to use this alongside the Tyndale Chronological Bible, but instead of reading for story I will be using this Bible for my divine reading (Lectio Divina). I have grown to love the NRSV Bible for the combined attributes of accuracy and readability and look forward to the coming year that I will spend with God in this Bible.
I saw this calendar advertised at some point in my web browsing back in October or November of 2012. When I saw it, I immediately forwarded the link to my wife, Laurie, with a note stating “this would make a nice Christmas gift—hint, hint.” I was pleasantly surprised to find it wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. This isn’t a “normal” calendar structured around the months (Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.). It is arranged around the Christian calendar. For instance, the first page of weeks is the Advent season, which was Dec. 2 through Dec. 24. When the page is turned to the next “month,” it is actually the season of Christmas, twelve days from Dec. 25 through Jan. 5th. The next page of weeks is the season of Epiphany, which begins January 6 and runs through February 12 (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and Lent). There are sidebars with information and devotional material relevant to the season of the calendar, and there are Scripture readings for each Sunday that come from the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer. The most important aspect of this calendar that I like though, is the connection of God’s story in our time. I’ve made it no secret over the past several years how much the Liturgical Calendar has impacted my spiritual formation. This is another helpful tool to keep me remain connected to God’s time throughout the year. It’s not too late to pick up your own!
Book Review: The Bible Questions
Author: Hal Seed
Publisher: InterVarsity Press ISBN: 9780830856121
The back cover reads; “The Bible can be a scary book…” This is true, and this is why many people choose not to engage it. Hal Seed has done a wonderful job in collecting some of the “scary” thoughts or questions about the Bible and providing insightful answers to help take away some of the uncertainty and confusion surrounding this ancient text.
Seed arranges his exploration of The Bible Questions into four primary parts; Part One—Primary Questions, Part Two—Purpose Questions, Part Three—Probing Questions, and Part Four—Practical Questions. Each of these parts includes several chapters addressing some of the most popular questions about the Bible. As an example, Part One chapter titles include the following: Who Wrote the Bible?, How is the Bible Different From Other Books?, Who Decided What Went into the Bible?, and others.
I’ve been using this book for several weeks now in preparation for teaching a class on how to read the Bible. I have found it very useful with the information it provides, but even more, I have appreciated the conversational language Seed uses in talking about some of these topics. There are anecdotal commentaries and factoids that I have incorporated into my presentations that are helpful with keeping my audience engaged. I consider the same might be true for other readers.
The Bible Questions isn’t all about information though. At the end of each chapter, Seed provides some application suggestions and exercises with a Scripture reading and a few questions to ponder and/or discuss. There is also a comprehensive study guide at the end of the book. These exercises and the study guide would make the book a perfect fit for a small group book study, especially for a group that might be new to Bible reading. I really appreciated Part Four with the direction the author took regarding practical questions and application. It seemed to me this section was actually geared more to an introduction to inductive study. I don’t know if this was Seed’s original intent, but this is where my thoughts were drawn and I will be using these chapters when I start teaching an inductive method of study later this month.
I am so grateful and appreciative of the steady stream of great books coming from InterVarsity Press for the building up of the Church. The Bible Questions by Hal Seed is another great addition to my personal library, which I will use for years to come. I think it is a great overview of the Bible and many people, both new Bible readers and experienced readers, will find value in it.
NLT Psalm 145
1 I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. 2 I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. 3 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. 4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. 5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. 6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. 7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. 8 The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. 10 All of your works will thank you, LORD, and your faithful followers will praise you. 11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. 13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The LORD always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.
This entire Psalm is about proclaiming the “GOD Story” from a first-hand experience. Look at the words…
The questions that came to me this morning as I pray this morning prayer and turn to meditate on this Psalm follow:
1. Is my experience personal?
2. How real is my experience?
3. Is my experience so real that I do not have any difficulty expressing it?
4. Is the expression my experience abundantly clear and profound that it captures the attention of others?
5. Does my life express my experience and relationship bathed in the wonder of God’s ever-present fellowship in it?
6. If this Psalm is not being fully realized in my life, what am I doing about it?
7. Is there an urgency to know God (The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit) in my life?
8. Is there an urgency to know God to the fullest capacity that He can be known or am I content to merely know about Him…or experience Him vicariously through the lives of others?
How about you? What comes to your mind when you ponder this Psalm? Do similar questions come to your mind???
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Day 23-25]
O God, who has given us the great and saving truths of Your gospel: grant us, we ask You, to live amid these things, to meditate on them and seek them; for one who goes on seeking, finds. Help us, therefore, to learn those things on earth, the knowledge of which shall abide with us in heaven. Grant this for Jesus Christ’s sake. [Amen] Give us strength with changed heart, O Lord, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength…and help us, O Lord, for Your namesake to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Amen]
“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace-in peace because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Scriptural living comes from trust in the Lord. When our eyes are fixed on the Lord Jesus and we trust in His word, we will be steadfast and mature.” Deep-Rooted in Christ; Joshua Choonmin Kang
“Your decrees are my meditation…” (Psalm 119:99) Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not a huge fan of study Bibles, but I believe they are useful when they are used in the role they were intended. I happen to have a number of study Bibles in my library, so it’s not like I don’t use them. The reason I’m not a big fan of them is because I believe they have the tendency to lead our reading. I have witnessed all too often people referring to “study notes” as if they were inspired with equal standing of the scriptures themselves. They are often used as the lazy man’s crutch to explain “what this means.” On the other end of that bias is the usefulness of the study Bible; maps, background history, socio-political climate, cultural information, and other extremely helpful information useful in understanding what the intent of the writer might be and to whom he might be writing. These pieces of information are helpful in understanding the meaning, rather than rushing right to the commentary.
I recently acquired the NLT (New Living Translation) Study Bible as the newest edition to my Study Bible library. I have not spent much time with it yet, but from what I have looked at it appears that I will have a good relationship with it.
I think the latest translations of the NLT Bible are among the most readable and accurate dynamic translations of the English Bible we have today.
Another study Bible that I was eager to look at is the ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible. It was just released today for public sale. I had placed an order for this version several months ago when I received a notice that it was soon to be published. I opened an email today that told me my new ESV Study Bible is in the mail and in route to me as of today!
I’ve heard good reviews about both of these study Bibles and think they will represent the best English translation Study Bibles available today. What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite study Bible? What version do you use and what do you like most about it? I look forward to hearing from you!