Educate Yourself 101

Bible.notebook.penEducation is changing. It is becoming more accessible to more people. At the same time, standards for what is good and bad education or information are going down. As there is more access to information, there is also, sadly, more access to bad sources of information.

What can you do to become better informed? What can busy people do to become educated thinkers and doers with a passion for God and Messiah?

The First and Most Important Step
A Bible reading plan . . . and one that is based on how the Bible is written.

Sometime back I did a post on “Reading the Bible as a Forward-Moving Conversation.” I still think that is the best way to read it. The simplest plan, if you want to get through the Bible in a year is so complicated, I call it the Leman method:

(1) Obtain a bookmark (any scrap of paper will do in a pinch).

(2) Start reading the Bible at the beginning.

(3) Read 3 or 4 chapters a day if you want to finish in a year (15-20 minutes a day).

(4) Read until you get to the end.

Why do I say this is first and most important? Well, most people aren’t used to reading the Bible as a story and a conversation that moves forward through time. Most people think of the Bible like a dictionary or encyclopedia. They look up a verse here or there about a topic. There is nothing that will keep you from understanding the Bible quite so much as reading it like a dictionary. Try reading a Harlan Coben mystery that way. You’ll never understand it.

Second Steps: Added Resources
Don’t think for a second you need just your Bible to understand your Bible. We live thousands of years after it was written. You can no more understand the Bible on your own than you can build a Lexus out of a giant mound of parts and raw materials.

So you need to add some other kinds of reading or learning to your Bible reading. In terms of your education about the Bible and theology, I may surprise you when I say: it might be best to avoid books about theology and practical living topics at first. Here is what I mean: you might want to get some Bible familiarity under your belt before you read a book about prayer, marriage, or life after death. Many of the poorly thought out ideas people have about God come from such books. But after you have spent some time and have a good feel for Biblical story and thought, then you will be able to read those kind of books more critically.

So what kind of reading is most helpful: how about reading books (recommended by a reliable teacher) that help you understand the history, people, culture and thought of Biblical times?

I will be making some recommendations from time to time. Readers, please comment and suggest some you have found helpful (I do reserve the right in the comments to challenge and critique any suggestions, though).

Third Steps: Making it a Life-Pursuit
You may want to take classes (if you are in Messianic Judaism, I highly recommend the online courses of MJTI at mjti.org, which are for undergraduate and graduate level students).

You may want to get a subscription to magazine like Biblical Archaeology Review.

You might subscribe to FFOZ’s Torah Club or find other regular disciplines to keep you growing and refresh your thinking about Biblical and theological topics often.

The thing is, though we are all busy, we all have at least some time for learning. It doesn’t have to cut into your family and entertainment time. Be creative.

Small investments every day over a long time pay off.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Education, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Educate Yourself 101

  1. harrisj0475 says:

    Hi Derek,

    I started to post this on Facebook and then deleted it because I thought this was a better place to post it since this is where the information is.

    Is Calvanism man-made doctrine or is is doctrine that comes from God explained by a person? There is a class someone recommended I take and I’m not sure if I should take the class yet or not because I’m not sure if it’s right to learn about Calvanism.

    Thanks,

    Jill Harris

    • harrisj0475 says:

      Sorry, I spelled that wrong. I meant “Calvinism”. I’ve got a zillion things going through my head this week so I’m not surprised I spelled that wrong.

    • Calvin was an interesting thinker. In his day he brought study of the Bible forward in many ways. Studying Calvinism or the ideas of Calvin certainly has value. But if you want to learn the Bible, a class on the theology of Calvin is not something I would focus on until you have spent time on more important things. I guess what I am saying is that I wouldn’t recommend a class on Calvin (or any other historical figure) unless you have a good reason for it. There are a lot more central areas of study to concentrate on.

      Maybe what you mean is that someone is teaching a class on the doctrines of the Reformation. Again, it is a topic of value, but it is a distraction from more important learning.

      • harrisj0475 says:

        Thank you. I found out more about the class. It’s a theological class for people who are in leadership or will be in leadership in the future. I don’t think I’ll take it if I find out it’s not a requirement for me though.

  2. jm says:

    Interesting blog posts, thank you.

  3. tandi119 says:

    I find Bible Pathway an excellent resource for thru-the-Bible-reading. This keeps me on track day by day, year by year getting the overall Biblical picture and harmony of the Scriptures. John Hash still writes these daily devotionals, though he is close to ninety years of age. His generation was not so inclined towards the antinomianism prevalent in Christianity today. I glean much from this publication. It provides a thought-provoking launching pad for further study. It is available online or in booklet format.

    http://biblepathway.org/English/InDepthDailyDev.html

  4. winglord1 says:

    Great way to get people into The Book. I enjoy your candor and the information is wonderful too.

    Keep it up.

    Paula

  5. Pingback: Educate Yourself 102 « Messianic Jewish Musings

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