Having trouble getting an understandable overview of the different books of the Bible, such as the Book of Romans? There is a team of Bible teachers and video animators at The Bible Project that are creating short, video narratives of each book of the Bible. The animation is very clear and engaging, and I can not think of better way to gain a general overview of the Bible, in short video segments of about five minutes each. The Bible Project is working on creating videos for each book of the Bible. Have a look at what they are doing and join them if you want to help them out. Here is an overview of Romans 1-4.
Tag Archives: Bible study
Blue Letter Bible
When it comes to researching the Bible, people often call me a geek. And they’re right. I have little patience for flipping through tomes and trying to remember where I read something. Give me a multi-tabbed Internet browser and an electronically searchable document every time. For casual research (on the couch or Barcalounger) an iPad does the trick nicely, thank you. The guys at Google should be knighted or something for their contributions to society. Put the inventors of the Kindle Reader app right behind. Gotta love Amazon theology for instantly accessible books. Have trouble remembering things? Try Evernote. Bible study has never been so accessible, easy and convenient.
But things evolve rapidly in cyberspace.You can get used to a favorite tool, and miss out on something even better. Likewise, you can try one that is in an early stage of gestation, be unimpressed, and fail to see improvements that are rolled out later on. So it is with Bible reference sites.
For years, I enjoyed using a popular Bible search tool that eventually became thick with advertisements. It failed to keep up with modern resources, instead offering 19th-century commentaries that rarely satisfied. Friends recommended the Blue Letter Bible site and app to me a couple of years ago, but I just didn’t like the interface.
My go-to searching tool for Bible study has become the Blue Letter Bible. It has a very convenient and well-thought-out interface that connects resources in a powerful way. Aesthetically it’s a bit like looking at the guts of an engine, but once you get used to it, you’ll have tremendous power at your fingertips. For those who copy and paste Scripture into documents and would like to avoid having to manually remove each verse number and then type the citation after you paste, Blue Letter Bible’s copy and paste options are amazingly flexible and powerful. Seems like a simple thing, but that’s what brought me back to retry the Blue Letter Bible.
Wow, have they delivered a lot of smart features! But don’t take my word for it. Watch this five-minute video tour then try it out for yourself. Enjoy!
Keeping It Real
(Note: For those interested in the calculations for the precise dating of the first Easter, here is the link to the paper Dr. Ken Petzinger shared with our Personal Discipleship class.)
Truth is not relative. Truth is not—as Ogden Nash so eloquently wrote—that “people believe what they believe they believe.” Truth is not dogma. It is not—as Ravi Zacharias argues—logically inconsistent, empirically inadequate, or experientially irrelevant. Truth is incredibly important. Truth is the reason Jesus Christ was born and came into the world.
“In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
John 18:37c (NIV84)
Okay, okay…Why spend time studying ‘truth’? People who harp on ‘truth’ make me nervous (and sometimes nauseous). Sometimes dangerous ideologies are launched on malformed or manipulative notions of truth. Got it. But objective truth is the proper basis for personal discipleship. Without objective truth, the door is open to wield the Bible as a weapon, perverting the very purpose of Divine revelation. Without objective truth one can hold up the Bible and say with a clear conscience, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” (New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace calls this attitude “bumper sticker theology.”) Among many other problems, that approach has a glaring flaw—an inherent internal focus. In other words, “that settles it (for me).”
Those who ascribe to a “that settles it (for me)” approach to the Bible tend to miss the beauty that comes from understanding how well it can withstand objective, historical, logical, philosophical, and (yes) scientific scrutiny. It takes a great deal of effort to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), but the juice is worth the squeeze.
We don’t tell people what to think on Veracity, but we’re not afraid to share opinions. Rather than sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring challenges to the Bible and the Christian faith, why not take a hard look at these challenges and study the appropriate responses? Could it be that the reason some Christians are unwilling to address atheistic or skeptical objections is that, deep down, they fear the answers might be inadequate? Why upset the applecart when it is settled (for me)? Could it be laziness or complacency?
With objective truth as the basis for personal discipleship, our studies can become rich and full of awesome discoveries. Without it we’re apt to flounder, or even end up spiritually bankrupt. Okay, enough of my testimony.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful and true, yet oftentimes one will ask, “How can it be true that there is only one way?” Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t ask the same questions of the laws of nature or of any assertion that lays claim to truth. We are discomfited by the fact that truth, by definition, is exclusive. That is what truth claims are at their core. To make an assertion is to deny its opposite. Rather than complain that there is only one way, shouldn’t we be delighted that there is one way?”
Ravi Zacharias, Think Again – Deep Questions, 28 August 2014
In addition to J. Warner Wallace’s excellent video on The Case For Truth, there are two essays I would recommend for anyone interested in personal discipleship. The first is a brief blog post by Ravi Zacharias entitled “Deep Questions.” The second is a paper delivered by J.P. Moreland at the Evangelical Theological Society, November 18, 2004. Click on the images below to read these essays.
Personal Discipleship Class
Starting today (February 1st), I will be facilitating a new class on personal discipleship. For the next nine weeks, we will meet promptly at 10:45 a.m. in room 156 at the Williamsburg Community Chapel.
This class will build upon the apostle Paul’s instruction in (Philippians 2:12):
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
“Personal discipleship” is the process by which a believer or seeker accepts personal responsibility for exploring the claims and content of the Bible. The class will explore resources and topics, going beyond the sacred page to meet some of today’s most interesting and thought-provoking theologians, apologists, and philosophers. We will discuss historical evidence for the Resurrection, the dating of Easter, apologetics, textual criticism, the trustworthiness of Scripture, biblical inerrancy, science and faith, and current topics in theology.
The first session will focus on resources for personal discipleship. Click on the image above to download a PDF file containing hyperlinks to some of my favorite resources, which I will demonstrate in the class. If your personal studies are getting a little rote, try clicking on the images in this file to find some refreshing new tools and resources that you can use to reinvigorate your devotional life. The breadth and depth of high-quality resources available today is absolutely stunning.
Objective Truth As The Basis For Our Study
I posted the following video a couple of weeks ago. It presents an interesting, refreshing basis for studying the Christian faith—specifically that Christianity is founded on objective truth. The ideas in this video will frame our approach to studying during this class.
Just a few announcements for our regular readers…
A couple of years ago our church’s director of Christian education told me about a meeting she had with our associate pastor during which he tossed around the idea of creating online self-directed Bible study courses—a “Chapel U” website as it were. We didn’t have the institutional resources to pull off such an ambitious undertaking, and having just launched Veracity I had plenty to keep me busy. But the idea of self-directed Bible study was intriguing, so I thought it might be helpful to catalog the posts that Clarke and I write on the blog. Maybe someday we might have enough content that people could do a kind of self-directed study.
We pretty much write about whatever our current devotional interests are, with no real agenda or curriculum. Our five most recent posts show up on our home page, then roll off to the automatic archives. But since the very beginning we have also cataloged them in a logical order on our Kaqexeß page, where readers can do topical, self-directed Bible study. We are now closing in on 300 published posts, and if you really worked through them you would have a decent shot at holding your own in discussions about the claims and content of the Bible. (Actually, most of our readers can hold their own regardless, but we have been blessed with feedback from those who learned a great deal from these posts.)
Please check out our Kaqexeß page and see if you have any comments or suggestions as to how we might make this material more accessible and useful. (We also take requests from readers about topics you’d like to see covered on the blog.)
Charlotte Apologetics Conference
The early bird discount for the 2014 National Conference on Christian Apologetics will not be available after July 31st. The conference doubled its attendance last year to over 2,400 attendees, and registration had to be closed due to space limitations. The 2014 conference is moving to a larger facility, and a strong turnout is expected. If you want to give a boost to your devotional life, attending this conference is the way to go. The speakers are subject matter experts, and are quite engaging and entertaining. The conference is scheduled for October 10 and 11, and only costs $90 for early bird registrants (with two box lunches, which you’ll want). Let us know that you signed up, and I’ll tell you where you can find good local barbecue, apples and cider.
Our friends Debbie and Rob Smith are holding their 12th Annual H-E-A-R-T golf tournament on October 1st, at the Golden Horseshoe’s Green Course in Williamsburg. Help out a great ministry with a hole sponsorship, or sign up a team using this registration form.
Debbie Smith is the only person I know who has a federal law named in her honor, with a movie to tell her story. She’s been on 60 Minutes, Oprah, and a large number of programs, testified before Congress, and has received three gubernatorial appointments. From my limited perspective, Debbie and Rob Smith exemplify the power of church community in the aftermath of personal trauma. If you are not familiar with their incredible story, read about it here on their website.
Veracity Readers Out On The Town
We don’t do it as often as we should, but to mark a milestone birthday several Veracity readers and I took my dear wife Marion to the Williamsburg Inn. We’ve attended so many funerals this year it occurred to us that special celebrations like this one are among the most cherished memories we can have. The evening was fabulous, and I am truly blessed to count these dear people among my family and friends—particularly Marion, whom I count doubly.