Promise Box Syndrome

➡ Average Reading Time: 2 minutesWhen I was a kid, reading the Bible was reduced to the Promise Box just like the one on the right. My mom made sure that we picked a different color every day and read the promise. I still have that artifact today in my library to help me remember what not to do when reading Scripture. The directions on the box were:

 

This box contains 200 Precious Promises with accompanying appropriate bits of verse. These cards may be read at every meal, during social gatherings, in study groups, etc. Use these cards to memorize the rich portions of God’s Word.

Promise BoxNot only did the small cards have verses on them, but some only had “bits of verses” on them. They were all colored coded for no apparent reason except to look nice in the box.

We haven’t moved too far from that reading mentality. We still treat verses as the root way of reading, memorizing, and quoting the Bible. Even the “Read through the Bible in a Year” campaigns use a fragmented method. Usually, the reader is invited to read a passage from the First Testament and then a passage from the Second Testament. Our penchant to think that we can better order the interior of the books of the Bible is part of the curse of reductionism in Modernity. We may have come close to making “bible verses” our new idols and we worship at their feet as we affix them in different orders, usually to prove a point that we presuppose is correct.

We can correct this fashion of reading by reading the Bible in a way that gives prominence to the books of the Bible’s own structures.

Dr. Chris Smith, a contributing editor to The Books of the Bible™, and author of The Beauty Behind the Mask: Rediscovering the Books of the Bible, says, “It’s easy to forget that we’ve had the Bible for much longer without chapters and verses than we have had it with them. Chapters and verses make the Bible look as if the authors wrote numbered sentences and then gathered them into groups. We’ve become used to these things in our Bibles that were not originally there—the numbers, the divided books, and the added notes.” He adds, “Why force people to read past all this interference to find the text itself? Just present the books as they are-the poetry, the stories, the oracles of the prophets, all of it.” I have suggested in my book God’s EPIC Adventure that the antidote to reading the Bible in a fragmented way is reading it as a story.

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)