We live in a location and age where we have more access to the Bible than ever before. The entirety of the scripture is available to anyone with internet access. We can pull up the Bible on our iPhones with the simple touch of our passcode. And, of course, if we get “old school,” there’s printed Bibles. Some have estimated that there are upwards to 450 English translations of the Bible! And let’s not forget, before the invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, which took strides towards putting God’s Word into people hands, this sort of access was unprecedented.
However, many folks today still struggle to read their Bible with any sort of regularity. A common refrain, probably the most commonly claimed hurdle: “I don’t have enough time.” We’re too busy (which is code for the fact that we fail to prioritize our time in God’s Word).
Audio Bibles are an incredible aid here, and a great supplement to needed “deep dive” time in the Word. With audio Bibles, you can listen to the Bible on your commute to work, while mowing the yard, or doing the dishes. And when you consider, that for a significant portion of church history, a primary way many people accessed their Bible was by hearing others read it to them (many christians haven’t been privileged enough to own their own personal Bibles), audio Bibles are a rather fitting and historically normal medium for Bible intake.
However, if you’re like me — a visual learner, who struggles retaining information or keeping focus while listening to things — you’ve probably found most audio versions of the Bible out there to be too unengaging and drab to be helpful. It’s like they lack personality. Or if they do have some personality, they’re melodramatic, awkward, or come in inconvenient formats (e.g., CD’s).
Enter the new scripture listening app, Dwell.
Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction by Jonathan T. Pennington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fantastic book. Pennington not only serves up good, thoughtful, precise, and insightful scholarship and guidance on reading the Gospels well, but he does so in an incredibly engaging, enjoyable, and understandable manner. I highly recommend this book for any serious student and/or teacher of the Bible wanting to increase his or her reading of, not only the gospels, but all Biblical narrative.
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I just finished watching the first episode of the new show Living Biblically (you can watch it online here).
Inevitably, whenever shows like this come out, people will ask me what I think. Normally I don’t care enough to watch them. But this time I did.
I’ve typed out my gut reactions below.
First, some caveats.
- Like I said, these are just gut reactions (I literally just finished the episode minutes ago). So, this isn’t some in-depth piece where I’ve carefully analyzed or re-watched the episode multiple times. So, don’t over-scrutinize my review here. This is pretty casual.
- Second, I imagine there’s going to be a lot of hate thrown at this show from Christians (there always is with these things; and a lot of times, to be fair, the critiques are justified). But I’m not trying to add to that chorus here. My guts reactions below do focus on critique. But don’t assume that because that’s all I talk about here, that this is the whole story. I’m sure there’s a lot of benefit and good that can come from a show like this, e.g., opportunity to dialogue about faith.
- Third, these gut reactions are only based on having watched the initial episode. So, I understand that more story development will take place, which would potentially answer and inform my reactions below. So, my reactions are necessarily limited. (But I probably won’t watch the other episodes, ’cause I just don’t care enough about this.)
So, without further ado, here are my gut reactions. They focus specifically on how Living Biblically portrays biblical living (and/or Christianity?). What does it truly mean to live Biblically? And does the show accurately represent that?
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is really good.
DeYoung tells scripture’s overarching storyline of creation lost and to creation regained. As such, he gives specific attention to the promises of new-creation, with specific emphasis on their realization through a new Adam, an Abrahamic offspring, and a king from David’s line. This book will help children understand the Old Testament in light of the covenant promises, and understand Christ as the fulfillment of theses OT promises — the one who resolved the disobedience of God’s people, and who bears their curse, reversing the curse brought on by Adam and recapitulated with Israel under the Law.
The illustrations are also superb.
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Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is written to those who are Protestant, in an effort to help them sense the theological chasm between Protestantism and Rome. As such, it is not written as much with an eye towards Catholics, to help them understand Protestant convictions or arguments.
Almost all attention is given to unpacking Catholic thought. Protestant views are only mentioned occasionally in so much as to provide a contrast. But they are not expanded upon.
The above is not a critique of the book, just a clarification that if you are looking for a book that contrasts Protestant and Catholic belief, simultaneously making a case for Protestantism, for example, this is not your book. Sproul, rather, is detailing Catholic thought with an aim of depressing inappropriate ecumenical tendencies (i.e., blowing off differences with Rome) among protestants.
As he proceeds towards this aim, Sproul does a fair job presenting Catholic views. He is charitable, and avoids caricatures, which are all too common among protestants. He gives the needed nuance to Catholic views. He wants to help protestants genuinely understand Catholic theology, and to see it’s rationale.
This book is to be recommended for those looking to understand Catholicism better, specifically on those key subjects where it differs most significantly from Protestant thought.
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