Reblog from Dr. Michael Heiser: Why You Don’t Learn Much Bible in Church

One of the podcasts I discovered in my study of Leviticus, which is ongoing, was the Naked Bible Podcast with Bible scholar, Dr. Michael Heiser, and his layman assistant, Trey Stricklin.

Heiser is one of the many voices I listen to about biblical questions and context, and his actual passion and faith are things I sometimes forget about because his lectures get very academic and dense.  I love the nerd part of Heiser’s work, but that leads me to occasionally forget that this is a man who has deep love and loyalty for God, as well.

He posted this blog article back in 2014, but it’s new to me, and the title got me.  I’m very new to corporate worship, and I am grateful to say that my church is very Bible-heavy compared to most others I’ve attended.  The sermons are based on more than 2 verses, and the entire church has access to various small groups that expand on the scriptural basis for the previous Sunday’s sermon each week.  Our senior pastor and our brand new associate pastor are both well beyond biblically literate, and my senior pastor has been open and inviting whenever I had questions that needed answering from some book or other of Scripture.  He has also been instrumental in encouraging me to keep “wrestling with the Word.”  I’m not sharing this because I have a complaint about my church.  I’m sharing it because I have deep and dreadful concerns about the church.

That said, I really believe that Dr. Heiser is right about very important things in this article.  If you have the time, please do read his post on this issue.  It is an unapologetic rant, and I share his frustration.  I mean, it is this very frustration that led me to start writing down everything I study in a public way.  I came here because I want to reach out and pull in fellow Christians from wherever they may be and study the Bible with them.  Anyway.  The article is great.

Follow the link below the excerpt to read his article in full.

BEGIN EXCERPT from Dr. Michael Heiser Originally Posted on The Naked Bible Blog:

Naked Bible Blog Logo

Just a heads up — this is another Naked Bible rant.

Short answer: It’s by design. For the longer answer, keep reading.

I came across a troubling, but completely predictable, article today by Mark Galli, an editor at Christianity Today, entitled “Yawning at the Word.” It’s about something of which I and my readers are acutely aware: the low tolerance for biblical content in church. If you go to the link you can read the essay in its entirety only if you subscribe to CT. I therefore can’t reproduce the article here, but I’m going to quote from it for the purposes of interaction.

Galli opens this way:

When I preach, I often quote the Bible to drive home my point. I think it more persuasive to show that what I’m saying is not merely my opinion but a consistent theme of Scripture. And to avoid the impression that I’m proof-texting or lifting verses out of context, I quote longer passages—anywhere from 2 to 6 verses.

When I did this at one church, a staff member whom I’d asked for feedback between services told me to cut down on the Scripture quotations. “You’ll lose people,” he said.

What struck me here was the “longer passages” line — defined as 2 to 6 verses. For those the author had in mind I can only say don’t visit this blog.  If you lose focus after 2-6 verses I’ll (gladly) put you in a coma.

The author is correct, though. Most of you who come to [The Naked Bible Blog] and others for biblical content do so because you’re starving in your church. The reason typically isn’t that your pastor doesn’t know anything or is too lazy to study…read more at the original posting site.


4 thoughts on “Reblog from Dr. Michael Heiser: Why You Don’t Learn Much Bible in Church

  1. Even though we live in a world that constantly poses the temptation to sin – in addition to the fact that we live in a body of flesh that can easily fall prey to sin’s enticements. Jesus shows me – as a fellow human – that I can live, even in the most trying of circumstances, and not sin. And since the giving of the spirit, not fall asleep in prayer when challenges mount. Not abandon him out of fear…Not stand in constant doubt and fear of the future, etc., etc., etc..But if Jesus were literally God – in the human form – then I don’t have a chance with this stuff.

    While I would not deny the fact that “he who has seen me [Jesus], has seen the Father”….John 14, I would maintain a clear resolve to reconcile this verse with John 1:18: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.”

    1. Good morning, my brother Patrick!
      First, I am not a scholar, so I think someone like Dr. Mike would be better at discussing this with you. I don’t pretend to be a biblical scholar or a qualified Bible teacher. I’m just a sister in Christ, attempting to understand what it all says and means.

      I once wrestled with the doctrine of Trinity, but I don’t anymore, and I’ve come to believe that it is mysterious but clearly stated. Here are the first thoughts I had after reading what you’ve so generously shared here.

      First, if we could be like Jesus, we wouldn’t need Jesus. We could earn our salvation for ourselves if we could be like Him. But we can’t. Over and over again, Scripture tells us that we cannot earn our salvation. We cannot be clean enough to earn our own salvation. The Law was a “law of death” – not because it was bad law, but because man could not fulfill it. We’re too corrupted by sin. We’re too unholy in our own nature. We can’t “not sin.” We can resist. We can deny our nature many times and choose correctly in certain moments and situations, but our hearts themselves are broken. Our thoughts and inclinations and urges are sinful and so our works are not sufficient for salvation…because it is something deeper than our actions and choices; it is something within us that is corrupted.

      Jesus did not share that corruption of original sin with us. He was not born prone to sin and rebellion.

      We cannot be like Jesus. We can strive to be progressively more like Jesus (sanctification), but we cannot be like him and do what he did. Because Jesus saved us and we recognized that salvation, we received the Spirit to help us WANT to be like him, and there is a lot of language that equates Spirit to Jesus, too.

      Second, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus was there in the beginning with God the Father and God the Spirit at the start of Creation. He claimed to be the Messiah and openly acknowledged that about himself several times, starting with the woman in Samaria. When people fell down in worship to him, calling him “Lord” or “God,” he did not correct them as angels do when people fall prostrate before them. Jesus did not demur from their naming of him as God. Instead, he praised their faith and their ability to discern his identity correctly. Jesus claimed the title “I Am,” which as you know is a name reserved only for God. Finally, in my limited capacity (I don’t have a lot memorized and have only read some books once), Jesus claimed to be cutting a covenant–forming a new covenant–with God’s people. Only God can do this. There were many obvious claims to deity in Jesus’ ministry, and it is my personal belief that having us see it and recognize it without being told is part of the faith journey we are meant to make. For whatever reason, I think it’s important to God that we look and see rather than being handed certainty on these pieces. /shrug. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more eloquent in my explanation of how I see Trinity. /smile. It’s the best I can do at present.

      So, in my understanding of it..Jesus could not have been just a human being specially made/chosen for a task (like Samson was, like Samuel was, or like David was). God chose, announced, and anointed many special workers through Scripture, but all of them were sinners who fell short. Jesus never did. There was more to him than humanity.

      Trinity is one of the big ones. I’m glad you’re talking about it and wrestling with it. I think that God wants us to do that. It seems like the more we spend our time and effort working to understand, the more we conform ourselves to Jesus’ example.

      May God bless and keep you!

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