Bad Bible study habits

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Darren, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Darren

    Darren
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    Sorry, this is rather long winded, but I want to get my points across.
    Begin rant:

    One day seven-year-old Josh goes to talk to his Sunday school teacher. Josh had an idea, he explains. He wants to memorize the Bible one verse at a time. He plans on just opening it at random once a week and memorizing whatever his finger falls on. His Sunday school teacher messes up the kid's hair, thinking how cute he is, and tells him "that's a wonderful idea".

    Thus begins an absolutely terrible Bible study plan for Josh that's lible to make him NEVER understand the Bible, even if and when he eventually abandones the plan. Thanks alot teacher, maybe you should base things more on what is reasonable, not what is "cute".

    This is of course a dramatization, but at the same time, it actually happens. I'm so tempted to make a website and have one the feature be the "daily insperational verse" today its: "Jesus wept" tomorrow its: These were the sons of Sier the Horite, who were living in the region: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeion Anah. And then the next day, since we were asked to give greater context on the last verse: Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These sons of Seir in Edom were Horite cheifs. This would be done to make a statement of course, about the modern treatment of Biblical material. Out of context it's impossible to know what any one verse is refering to, they're not meant to be stand alone and no the Bible is not a giant feel good or feel bad book. It presents you with the truth, take or leave it, it doesn't matter how you feel.

    And so out come the Bible study plans. First read John three times, John is the apostle of love (but isn't Genisis first- yes but Genisis is confusing so read John first-), now read the other three gospels once, and then reread John. (Do you just have an obsession with the book of John?- whatever makes you think that?-) Now read the Romans, Galations and Ephesians... and then John again. Now read Psalm 150. (Why? - It's the longest chapter in the Bible- I agree it's practically a book itself but still, why read it stand alone? - no more questions!). Now read Revelations, it will be hard to understand (I wonder why! -silence!-) at first, but with cross referencing and reading these seven various devotional books by various authors, you might just be able to piece things together. Now read the Books of Moses, except Numbers, only read that as a point of interest. (I thought Numbers was PART of the sacred text.) Now read 1st Samuel through 2 Chronicles, Joshua is a history lesson, don't worry, you can read it later. (Yes but aren't 1st Samuel through 2nd Chronicles also history lessons?- what did I say?- ) Now read the rest of the books however you like. (What... what they aren't important or you didn't want to come up with junk plans like this for all 66 books?)

    Again, a dramatization, but for a point. Reading the books of the Bible out of sequence and focusing major attention on some and not others leads to obvious problems. After reading John three times, when you finally do read Genisis, it will be through the lense of John, and you'll be checking everything against John. When in fact, it was intended that you verify John with Genisis, not the other way around. It's Genisis that starts the story, and John that finishes it. John makes little sense without Genisis, but you don't need John to interpret Genisis. (Remember, one existed for thousands of years WITHOUT the other.)

    The books of the modern Bible weren't just slapped into place and can fit anywhere and still make sense like a series of legos. The fathers of our faith had reasons for putting the Bible in the order it's in. The main reason, it seemed to make the most sense in that manner. By this, should I read the books in their universally accepted order, or in the order some silly preacher made up, seemingly without much thought to consistency and what makes sense?

    Read your devotionals if you like, take your study plans. But remember, there is NO substitute for reading the books of the Bible in a sensible order, such as the order they're already in. Study plans are great... or can be... in any case, they should be done AFTER reading the Bible like a normal book that you intend on UNDERSTANDING.

    What do I mean by, understanding? How about this: read the Bible in order, come to something you don't understand, read on a little bit. If it doesn't become clear, cross reference with other translations and try back tracking. Translation: read it how you would a normal book.
    ____________________________________________________

    On quoting:

    The verses of the Bible are NOT stand alone. Without context they contradict, make no sense and often have little value. It's like reading Moby Dick, one random sentence at a time. It will never make sense. They wonder how the Sceptics Annotated Bible, dispite being a colossal momument to stupidity, convinces people of anything. Simple, because, its non-sense demonstrated study habits and quoting habits, match what Christians do all the time.

    I'm guilty of this myself and am trying to improve on my quoting and studying habits. But it's hard to leave behind what seems like the Christian norm, which it would seem, is outright disrespect for the word of God.

    If I'm not the only person who feels this way, I would like to put forward a new forum rule. Humbly I address this, but I think it should be done. Verses MUST have proper context given. This will force people to think about what they are saying and will avoid confusion. Maybe even, heaven fobid, having to put things in context, will force some to reexamine their beliefs... in fact almost garantee it. It forced me to do so.

    As to what correct context is, yes that can be debated, but most Bibles actually outline different sections. Just sticking with, quoting an entire parable, instead of just one sentence from it, for instance, should be satisfactory. Context explains, purpose, setting, the individuals concerned and the events concerned with a sentence. It can be several chapters or a few paragraphs.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/context

    Rarely if ever is it one or two sentences... stratch that, CONTEXT IS NEVER ONE OR TWO SENTENCES. Not in the Bible anyway.
    ___________________________________________

    Wow that was alot. Okay. So yea, my thoughts on the subject are pretty set, but still, I want to hear what other people have to say. At the very least we can learn how such practices pick up.
     
  2. David Lamb

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    Darren, I agree with the great importance of context. I agree, too, that we are wrong to leave out chunks of the bible because they seem "boring" to us. I don't agree that it is necessarily helpful to read through the bible as one would any other book (starting at Genesis 1.1 and ending at Revelation 22.21). Suppose a newly converted Christian started doing that. There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament, so even reading at the rate of 5 chapters per day, it would be almost 3 years and 7 months before that new believer read any of the New Testament.

    I also don't agree that Psalm 150 is the longest chapter in the bible - it only has 6 verses :) . I think you might have meant Psalm 119, with its 176 verses.
     
  3. Darren

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    :laugh: Sorry. My bad. But hey, maybe the preacher giving this befuddled Bible study plan doesn't know that either.

    Actually only 185 days. That's about half a year. Check your math. What's 929 divided by 5?

    You do realize, that the Bible sitting on your desk (no doubt) if the text is sized down and put in normal format, is about the size of a children's chapter book? Some "chapters" are only a few paragraphs long, some only a few sentences. I use to have a list of all the "numbers of the Bible" -a project perhaps I should rehash one day as a point of interest- in which I found the longest and shortest of everything along with how many of each. I knew how many verses, how many chapters, everything. I think the shortest chapter was something like three sentences long. They're not chapters in the modern sense of the word. A chapter is usually several pages, but most Bible chapters are lucky to be two pages.

    929 pages, distributed over about 1076 pages. That's not a lot is it? Here's my March Up Country -by David Weber, great author, BTW- book, which is the first part in a three part series, 586 pages. I guess the pages are thinker or something because it's actually thicker than my Bible. The Lord Of the Rings series (Tolkien), dwarfs the Bible and gracious, I think you could fit four or five Bibles in the Cronicles of Narnia series (C.S Lewis, one of my favorites). The point is, if you wanted to rush through the Bible, it would be pretty easy.

    In fact at a rate of only three chapters a day, you can read the Bible in less than a year.

    In any case, over emphasizing one book or books over the others is a silly notion, liable to cause many problems... what am I talking about LIABLE? It DOES cause confusion. The christian church, just on the protestant side, has 150 denominations and counting by now I'm sure. And I'm almost certain, bad Bible study habits, miss quoted scriptures and nonsense reading habits are squarely to blame.

    If you want a new believer to learn of certain passages right away, show them to him, don't give him a bogus study plan that more likely to confuse him than anything else. Also, show them in context.

    Context always seems to make things a lot simpler when reading the Bible, or so it seems to me. And when I put things in context for people, I love watching their eyes wonder off, as they say "that's a... good point... you could be right... but you have to be wrong... I've gotta go".

    In short: Context, eliminates Contest.
     
  4. David Lamb

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    And that was my bad. Sorry, my maths (apologies, "math" to Americans :) ) isn't usually that inaccurate.

    I think we are more agreed on this than I originally imagined.
     
  5. annsni

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    I'm actually really enjoying reading the Bible in chronological order this year! So I'm reading the Psalms along with the historical books on David and it's making a lot more sense! :)

    I agree that one verse here and there is not a good idea but reading a whole book of the Bible is a GREAT idea even if it is starting with John. Because by reading John, a new believer is learning about who Jesus is and what He's done. I don't think a brand new believer needs to read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. before they read any of the New Testament because even *I*, a believer for 35 years, keep getting bogged down in those long drawn out books of Leviticus, Numbers (oh, heavens! Numbers!)! :)
     
  6. donnA

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    It's always a bad thing when a 7 yr old wants to read the bible I guess.
    Just what bible study methods do you expect him to know, or be able to learn, maybe we should teach him greek and hebrew. And who says this is going to be his permanent life long method? Not a good method for seasoned, long time christian adults, but 7 yrs old?
     
  7. Darren

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    donnA
    Well, ya know, its never too early to promote good study habits. If you want to teach him Greek and Hebrew, that's up to you, or maybe, teach him to read more than two paragraphs of a 13 paragraph presentation if you want to properly respond to it. At least, I'm pretty sure you missed most of what I said, seeing as you seem to be alledging at seven, a child is simply incapable of picking up and reading a book, and that such is like unto learning a new language.

    All I'm talking about is starting at the begining and reading to the end, something most 7-year-olds are quite capable of doing. What I'm addressing is Bible study habits that are hopelessly confusing and meaningless, are often started for children, and continue on into their adulthoods, effecting how they view the Bible.

    More to the point, any book you never sit down and read, I defy you to understand.

    annsni
    So you mostly see what I'm getting at? It does make more sense in order doesn't it?

    Again, I'm going to stress, our Bible is not a large book. Many new believers read it more than once a month... more than once a week... some even more than once a day. They haven't the same "discipline" the rest of us do. (Actually I wish I could speed read like that. Course these people often desribe how they had starved themselves and not slept, all because they wanted to finnish God's holy word, ASAP. Luky for them, it's a short book.)

    Also, you can just skip geneologies if you like, they have little value to us now, usually just points of interest. Seriously, I don't care much who begat whom. I read the side stories, but often those are explained earlier or later on in detail.

    As to reading them out of order, objectively speaking, I don't really see why you would do that. If there are certian sections you want a new believer to see right away, point them out right away. Like an english professor handing over one of his favorite books to a seventh grader. ("Oh that one's a good choice Jason, I always liked it. In fact, I want to show you something on page 17.")
     
  8. donnA

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    I've yet to see a 7 yr old who can understand the O.T. since most adults can't either. How about Numbers, think he can understand that?
     
  9. David Lamb

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    That seems strange; earlier you seemed to be stressing the importance of reading the whole bible, now you are telling people they can "skip the geneaologies if they like" and that you don't care who begat whom. Yet 2 Timothy 3.16 says:



    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.



    All Scripture, not "all Scripture apart from the genealogies," or "all Scripture apart from the parts you personally don't care about".
     
  10. Don

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    The entire bible? More than once a day? Pardon my skepticism, but when? They don't have jobs? Families? Other people that count on them for something?

    The point of encouraging a new Christian to read certain books is to encourage them to start reading the Bible. Remember the scripture passage that talks about the difference between milk and meat?

    Some newborn Christians are ready to eat meat right away; some are only able to drink a little milk at a time.

    As I stated in another thread, I believe you're using this thread (and the others) as a "jumping point" for a larger concept/idea. I think you're trying to "prepare us" for a new idea, or concept, or even doctrine.
     
  11. Darren

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    Hmm, this isn't too hard to explain really. Do you have kids? I remember being one. I loved it when my dad sat down and read the Bible with me. He explained what I didn't understand, and would often sit with me and talk about things until I was satisfied, at least for the time. He would do this with any book I wanted to read, and some he wanted me to read because he like them. Until, of course, I was old enough to read on my own.

    Hmm... maybe I should have said ten or twelve, but "cuteness" starts to wear off after a while so the example wouldn't have been as easy to see:laugh:. To be honest though, you're squabbling over a detail.


    Agreed, they can have a purpose. After all, often they can be used to showed fullfilled prophecies, and track the timeline of the Bible. The Bible is a historical record.

    The reason I don't concentrate much on them is I'm not too interested in the time line at the moment. However, you're right, they are important.

    Actually, I'm usually not as rigid as I've been presenting myself. I just believe in studying in a logical format, the most logical and simplist one is actually, Genesis to Revelation, a no brainer. Studying in an illogical format, is almost garanteed to confuse, misslead and well... you get the idea. Other formats can work, but this being the most striaght forward one, I recommend using it first, so you can say for yourself if a plan sounds like it could work. Reading the books in order is tried and true.

    ____________________________________
    I'm not upset this time since context doesn't eliminate or skew your interpretation. For the sake of at least this section, since it is the proposal is being examined that context be required, please put things in context. The whole chapter is context in this case, verses 10-16 more narrowly.

    One of the main reasons I do that is I'm trying to tempt people to flip over and see what I'm talking about. I hate to think that people are just reading what I say and never reading the Bible I get it from. I know not everyone will want to give context and narrow things down and try even try to find those magic times when one can insert a passage and not have to explain a thing... actually you could have done that here, given the passage, just a side note... but I'm not talking about coppying me and my method.

    My proposal again:

    It is disrespectful to God Himself to quote His word with no regard to the context of a passage. I propose context be required for this board. On a Baptist forum this should be a no-brainer, seeing as, interpreting plainly the text of the Bible is supposed to be one of the founding and most important doctrines of our faith.

    Of course I wish to talk about the other things presented here, but I'd like to addresses this one ASAP. Should I propose this to some administrators?
    _____________________________________


     
  12. rbell

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    Should context be considered? Of course.

    But by your definition, I would expect you would have problems with how some NT characters utilized Biblical quotes.

    Should we understand the Bible in its broadest context? Absolutely.

    But I don't see in the Bible where they necessarily did what you're saying (Genesis-Revelation only.) Your justification is, "Well, you do it that way with all other books." The Bible is not just another book, and I'm skittish about forcing it to play by others' rules.
     
  13. Don

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    What happens if someone disagrees with your "translation" of a passage and its context? Who gets to decide that your understanding of the context is more correct than someone else's?

    I gotta go with RBell on this one. I believe you're trying to set up a foundation for a much larger discussion, and aren't necessarily being straightforward with any of us.

    And yes, you should propose it to the administrators.
     
    #13 Don, Apr 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2008
  14. Palatka51

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    Frustrating isn't it? :BangHead:
    In fact there is a context to all of scripture from cover to cover, not just chapter and verse. It points to Christ. Christ is the context of it all. Christ is present in it Word for Word.

    From it we get the personality of God, His anger, His love, His grace.
    The OT's context is God's judgment of the disobedient. The Gospel's context is His love in the form of His Son. The letters of Paul, His grace. All other doctrine is to be "Rightly Divided."

    Another context to scripture is Christ to come, Genesis 3:15, Christ came, Matthew 1:18, and Christ to return, Revelation 22:12&13.
     
    #14 Palatka51, Apr 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2008
  15. annsni

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    Reading the Bible all the way through from beginning to end is wonderful whether in chronological order or just physical order. It is awesome to understand how things fit together but there are MANY good Christian people who have not read the whole Bible from beginning to end. I haven't done it yet and I've been a believer for 35 years - although I'm working on fixing that this year. I do understand the context of Scripture and I have read all of the Bible through my life - but just not fully reading from Genesis to Revelation all the way in order. I know my husband was the same way until a few years ago. However, he has studied many different books thoroughly to teach it to others.

    So, can we know the whole counsel of God without reading Genesis through Revelation in order? Of course. Is it a good idea to read it through? Yes. I think even better than just reading it physically through is to do it as I'm doing - chronologically. So far it's been in order except adding in Job at the end of Genesis, but I'm at the point now of reading 1 Samuel, Psalms and 1 Chronicles together because they overlap - and it will put two and two together in my own head and help me to fully understand the context of the Psalms and such. I'm looking forward to reading all of the Bible in this way.

    If my 7 year old decided to read the Bible here and there, I'd be thrilled. I'd also disciple him to learn how to do some study - and to encourage him to choose a whole book and read the entire thing at once. But even if he did as I did for a time - to pray for God's leading then just open the Bible and start reading - then that's fine too. Better than just reading Magic Tree House books!
     
  16. Darren

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    Actually Biblical context is usally pretty easy to figure out for a number of reasons. Often it's the chapter the verse is in, but most english Bible's have small section headings. The lazy way to give context is to just guess either the outlined section, or guess that its the chapter. The small headings I actually find very reliable. Rarely might I take issue with them, but not because they're "dead wrong", but I think context is further. I encourage people to look at the context I give, and it's always right there for everyone to see, so if you think I'm disrespecting things at any time, just tell me.

    Also, the Bible is usually composed of different stories and teachings, each separate, though not independant. It's easy enough to figure out.


    As to, am I getting at anything bigger... well, since I'm pretty sure I've talked about having bigger issues than I've already presented, I would think that would be a no brainer. However, these ideas I put forward are indeed important to me and near to my heart. I believe very firmly in interpreting, quoting and reading the Bible with respect and reverence, and believe firmly that in the modern church, this is not done. I use to be a near orthodox Baptist, if there is such a thing, that was me, however, it was always a concern to me, this one issue and I would think it would be to most people here.

    I realize, and apologize, I've been debating uncomfortable issues here (not this subject, obviously), maybe I should talk about them in the general Christians area, or find another forum if you all have trouble discussing you're reasons for believing the more important doctrines of the faith. This might not be the place for that.

    When things were quoted from old to new testiment, it's true "full context" was not given. I see a difference for three reasons. Mainly, no one here should be claiming the authority of an apostle or otherwise Biblical author. But also, secondly, the reference system we have now, wasn't around. Thirdly, I don't see much dispute about their context. They knew what they were reading and treated it with respect. Actually, they also encouraged their students, and peers to check up on them and not just read and accept.

    These days, there is an epidemic of Bible miss-quoting, but how to show that you aren't joining that mob?

    Well if giving context is not the answer... take this for example. It says in the Bible that God has counted every hair on your head. What does this actually mean and why is it said? Most people don't know but many have this memorized word for word and referenced. So then this shouldn't be hard. What does it mean, why is it said and how do you know?
     
  17. Deacon

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    Come out of the closet Darren.
    What you seem to be pushing is called Open Theism or an 'Open view of God'.

    Sure, it will raise the hackels on some of our backs.
    Citing large sections of Scripture in context wasn't a requirement for Jesus, his disciples or the early church fathers.
    They seemed perfectly able to present an argument without quoting great sections of Scripture.
    If there seems to be a problem with someones citation of Scripture, point out what you see as a problem AND give a valid argument why the text they offered is improperly applied.

    Rob
     
    #17 Deacon, Apr 24, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2008
  18. rbell

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    Sorry, but IMO that's pretty weak. Admit it....you are taking context beyond what the NT writers who quoted the OT did. Now, I'm not saying context is irrelevant or shouldn't be used...but by your standards the NT writers and Christ Himself would have been improperly using Scripture.

    And I re-emphasize my point earlier: One reason you gave to read the Bible exclusively chronologically, cover-to-cover....is because "that's how you read all other books."

    My point, again: Since when is the Bible like all other books?

    Simple: Scripture interprets Scripture. See, I do believe in context. :thumbs:
     

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