Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Read the Bible for Life

Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's Word. George H. Guthrie. 2011. B&H Books. 338 pages. [Source: Bought]

I almost loved, loved, loved this one. I did love it, by the way. It's an easy book to love IF you love the book the author loves. If you LOVE the Bible, if you love reading about the Bible, love reading about other people who love the Bible who get excited about the Bible, then chances are you'll enjoy spending time with this one too.

I think Read the Bible for Life would be a great book for groups to read together. (Families. Christian schools. Sunday Schools. Bible Studies. Friends.)

It had me from the introduction. I loved the introduction. Guthrie gives two reasons for writing the book. First, his belief that it is important that we read the Bible and read it well. He focuses on WHY it is so very essential to read the Bible. And he stresses the importance of reading it well--with understanding and application. He writes,
Thus, reading the Bible ought to at once be as encouraging as a mother's gentle touch and, at moments, as unsettling and disturbing as a violent storm. (5)
Take away the Bible and we cease to exist. It is both foundation and fuel of spiritual vitality for a Christian. Accordingly, there are many reasons we as believers need to read the Bible on a consistent basis. We need to read the Bible to know the truth. We want to think clearly about what God says is true and valuable (2 Peter 1:20-21). We read the Bible to know God in a personal relationship (1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 4:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:16). We read the Bible to live well for God in this world, and living out His will expresses our love for Him (John 14:23-24; Rom 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:1-8; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). We read the Bible to experience God's freedom, grace, peace, and hope (John 8:32; Rom. 15:4; 2 Pet. 1:2). We read the Bible because it gives us joy (Ps. 119:111). We read the Bible to grow spiritually, as we reject conformity to the world and are changed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:1-2). We read the Bible to minister to other Christ followers and to those who have yet to respond to the gospel, experiencing God's approval for work well done (Josh. 1:8; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17). We read the Bible to guard ourselves from sin and error (Eph. 6:11-17; 2 Pet. 2:1-2). We read the Bible to be built up as a Christian community with others in the body of Christ (Acts 20:32; Eph. 4:14-16). (5)
The second reason Guthrie gives is the fact that we are not reading the Bible, much less reading it well. He then goes on to show how biblical illiteracy is on the rise. How even among those who profess to be Christians, biblical illiteracy is a very real problem, a real concern. He points out four reasons why. First, reading in general is on the decline. Second, technology may be hurting our ability to read, to focus on what we read. Third, people are distracted and overextended. Fourth, people don't know the Bible's grand story or how its parts work.

The book is divided into four parts. Part one is "Reading the Bible: Foundational Issues." Parts two and three are "Reading the Old Testament" and "Reading the New Testament." Part four is "Reading the Bible in Modern Contexts."

Each part has four chapters. Some chapters focus on the why. Other chapters focus on the how. The book is definitely practical and packed with information. Each chapter is a conversation, an interview of sorts. Guthrie is asking experts questions and he's not only sharing what he's learned but the process of it as well. (I could have used a little less description in places.)

Reading the Bible As A Guide for Life with David S. Dockery
Reading the Bible in Context with Andreas Kostenberger
Reading the Bible in Translation with Clint Arnold and Mark Strauss
Reading the Bible for Transformation with George Guthrie (for better or worse, he interviews himself)
Reading the Old Testament Stories with Bruce Waltke
Reading the Old Testament Laws with J. Daniel Hays
Reading Psalms and Proverbs with David Howard
Reading the Old Testament Prophets with Gary Smith
Reading the New Testament Stories with Darrell Bock
Reading the Teachings of Jesus with Craig Blomberg
Reading the New Testament Letters with Douglas Moo
Reading Revelation with J. Scott Duvall
Reading the Bible for Personal Devotion with Donald S. Whitney
Reading the Bible in Times of Sorrow and Suffering with Michael Card
Reading the Bible with the Family with Pat Guthrie (his wife)
Reading the Bible with the Church with Buddy Gray and David Platt

Each chapter deserves time--my time and your time. I learned so much. I want to remember so much. I want to share with you what I learned. But that would mean going chapter by chapter by chapter. It would weigh this review down to try to include everything.

I definitely would recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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