I began this blog in January 2016 as a response to a Facebook challenge to share some thoughts each week about each book in the Bible. For many years I’ve made it a habit to read the Bible through, starting with the first chapter of Genesis on New Year’s Day and ending with the last chapter of Revelation on New Year’s Eve. So I was intrigued by the additional challenge presented by attempting to write down my thoughts about what I was reading. The experience has been both more challenging and more rewarding than I expected, and one I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone who might be interested in growing in understanding of and relationship to God.
It as been a challenge to write something every week, whether I felt like it or not. This became particularly evident as I neared the end of the project. I was already a little behind schedule when I finished the Old Testament, because I decided to do most of the Book of the Twelve separately rather than in one post. The results of the election caused a flare-up of existential depression and spiritual malaise for me, where I lacked the energy to do much of anything, and so I skipped a few weeks in November. Many of the New Testament letters are very short, meaning that by December, I was reading through several books a week and sometimes more than one in a day. As a result, I found that in order for me to finish the project by December 31, I had to write at least one blog post a day during the final week of December. But I did finish, and I’m glad I did.
When I began this project, one of my goals was to write for those who are confused by or even repelled by the Bible. I think that having a relationship with God is of great benefit, and I’m saddened to see many people decide that God is irrelevant, even as they struggle with problems with which I think God would be happy to help. But I was also writing for myself when I tried to find the good news in every book of the Bible, even the dark ones. I found that even when I thought there was only bad news to be found in a particular book, once I started writing I’d be surprised by where my thoughts led me. Especially in the last weeks of December, when I was spending several hours each day writing in order to finish, I found that my mood generally lifted after writing, and I felt encouraged. I think that was a God thing; at least I hope so. And so I plan to continue this blog in 2017, whether anybody reads it or not. I’m not yet sure what kind, if any, outline I’ll follow in choosing what to write about. But I’ll think of something.
I enjoy reading and studying the Bible. Through its stories of people trying to understand and relate to God, it helps me draw closer to God. I also enjoy learning what scholars have learned about the Bible through studying its historical and cultural backgrounds, archeology, and ancient languages. I find that helps me understand the confusing and contradictory parts in a way that enhances, rather than undermines my faith. I don’t agree with either the people who worship the Bible with the kind of rigid literalism that elevates it to a fourth member of the Godhead. Nor do I agree with people who practice an equally rigid literalism and want to throw the baby out with the bathwater by concluding that any inconsistency makes it totally worthless.
There’s a (maybe apocryphal but still true) story about Karl Barth being asked to summarize the theological conclusions he’d drawn over his lifetime. He answered, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so”.
I tend to agree.