The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

November 09, 2011

Blogging the Bible

By: 
Ben Emerson

If you had told me, upon entering college, that studying the Bible by printing out a few verses on a blank sheet of paper and then writing all over it would change my life, I would have thought you were crazy.

But that is exactly what happened when I joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a freshman at the University of Oregon.

Over a decade later, I am still learning new things about God and how I should respond to him as I circle repeated words, underline confusing phrases, write questions in the margins, and then discuss what I am seeing with others.

Learning to study the Bible with this method, called inductive manuscript study, is probably one of the best gifts InterVarsity has given me. I’ve studied the entire Gospel of Mark three times like this and I can’t wait to do it again!

I will be forever grateful for that gift. But in many ways, I feel I have barely begun to take it out of the box.

Until now.

During a prayer time with my staff team, God reminded me just how much I loved Scripture, both studying it and teaching it. So naturally, I took it to the extreme.

I decided to manuscript the entire Bible, roughly four to five chapters a week, then write a blog post about each chapter. I call the project, “The Whole Dang Thing: Blogging the Bible With Irreverent Reverence.”

Am I crazy? Probably.

Has it been worth it? Oh, yes. And a heckuva lot of fun.

Irreverence

Soon after beginning my project, I realized I could actually present what I was learning creatively and humorously.

For example, in Genesis 49, Jacob gives his final blessings to his sons. But what if he had done it using twitter?

Or in Exodus 15, Miriam and Moses write a song. But what modern artist would be the best choice to actually sing it? Bono? The Black Eyed Peas? Lady Gaga?

And what if you told the story of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 like “Twas The Night Before Christmas?

Believe me when I tell you that manuscripting Leviticus makes it come to life! Bring on Numbers!

Reverence

At the same time, my pictures of God and the story he’s telling are expanding like crazy. His patience, commitment, and fierce love for his people is sobering and inspiring.

I watched and waited as he gave a promise to Abraham and then neither said nor did anything for years.

I was on the edge of my seat as he transformed Joseph from a betrayed baby brother into a compassionate man of forgiveness and grace.

I had a front row seat to the greatest wedding ceremony ever seen. God bound himself to a nation of former slaves and gave them gifts of art, ethics, architecture, time, rhythm, and so much more.

And though they try and try and try to throw it away, he refuses to leave them.

I have been simultaneously frustrated and awed by his determination to work in and through people. He just won’t do it by himself! Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Aaron – these flawed and fragile people are the very means by which he carries out his purposes.

Make no mistake, I have a long way to go. I am only about 3/4 done with Leviticus. And I’ve done the math. This thing won’t be finished for another 6 years!

But what else will I discover? How will my picture of God and Jesus and his people change? How will I change?

These are questions I am excited to answer. What about you? How has your picture of God changed through inductive study? How have you changed?

Ben Emerson is on staff with InterVarsity at Oregon State University where he pretty much has the most awesome students ever. You can follow along with his blog, “The Whole Dang Thing“ or follow him on Twitter

Comments

Speaking of the Bible, would you ever consider writing a piece that is political in nature, without taking sides? Just the facts. With Mitt Romney in the news on a daily basis, more people are finding out what the Mormon church teaches. It's a little upsetting to find out that we may have a candidate who believes the Book of Mormon is also the word of God. Here we have a man who is seeking the Christian vote, acting like a Christian, saying he believes in Jesus Christ, while his core beliefs are very different from Christians - that there are 3 Heavens and a "Spirit World," that Mormons believe they can become Gods in the Celestial Kingdom, that if a child dies before age 8 they automatically go to Celestial Heaven, not to mention that God had a wife...there are more differences than similarities and no one is holding the two up to light. Being open minded, I was wondering how open you are to those teachings. If you respect Christopher Hitchens point of view, would you respect the Mormons too? A new Facebook page has been put up with the goal to inform and collect votes from Christians about this issue. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mitt-Romney-is-Evasive/300704763320146
I love the Twitter post! Too funny!
I'm so glad it has done that. That was one of my hopes for the project!
I'm a fairly new reader of your blog, but it's already reawakened my desire to study the Bible. Thanks for your commitment to The Whole Dang Thing - I think a lot of us get a lot out of it.

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