Education 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.