Meeting God in the Margin

Seeking Biblical Knowledge in an Age of Biblical Illiteracy

About

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It’s really important for a lot of reasons that I prominently display a little bit about who I am, why I’m doing all of this, and how I encourage people to use and/or receive the things I write here.

First, it is vital for any visitor on these pages to understand that I have no formal training in theology or biblical studies. I have a bachelor’s degree in history, and my emphasis was not in the Middle Bronze Age Near East. So. My education didn’t cover the Bible, okay?

I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, I have no formal biblical training, and I most definitely have no authority to “teach” Scripture. I am here to share and commune with fellow Christians in the Word. I have nothing to teach you, but I have so, so much to learn and share.

Second, you need to know that I have not, at the time of this posting, completed a total study of the Bible as an adult. There are entire books of the Bible remaining that I have not yet read. To go through those with me as I read them for the first time, you can look for blog posts tagged “First Reading.” Each post with that tag in the title will hold thoughts and notes and questions I had the very first time I read the indicated book/chapter of Scripture.

By autumn of 2017, I will have finished a first reading of the entire Bible, and that’s when the real work of study will begin. It’s going to be fun, but it’s going to get really deep and unapologetically academic. It’s who I am, and God made me this way. Buckle up. Ha ha

Any time I’ve used commentaries, podcasts, sermons, or published bible studies to supplement my study of a given Scripture, the titles and authors will be noted. All sources I use will be linked whenever possible.

Third, I want to address the question of my hermeneutic. I have one, of course, because everyone who comes to Scripture for study has one. The trouble is that I simply don’t know what mine is.

I approach the Bible like all beginners in Scripture…as a beginner. I sit down and I read it. I read carefully and with purpose. I record my reactions and thoughts in the margins, and if I have questions, I write those down, too.

The approach I have could probably be classified as a historical-critical approach, but that is softened by a solid belief in the Bible’s inspired status. I believe that this book was written by human beings who were chosen by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit. I come to the Bible as a history nerd with an addiction to research and an absolute obsession with historical and cultural context. I question everything, and I do it boldly, without hesitation.

Fourth, I am a Lutheran, which is to say that I am a member of a Lutheran church, believe in sola scriptura, and find the statements of doctrine for Lutheranism most closely aligned with my view of things. That said, I have no other doctrinal/denominational biases that I am aware of when I come to the Bible. If I discover any, I will disclose them publicly, and I will probably try to eradicate them. I don’t believe there is any room for factionalism in the Body of Christ.

I absolutely abhor doctrinal bickering and denominational condemnations, especially those that cherry-pick verses for the sole purpose of condemning or degrading fellow Christians. I won’t publish any of that mess in comments here, and I probably won’t even read it, so it’s best not to bother. If you believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, then we’re brothers under God, and that’s enough. The rest, we can work out together with civility and love.

Fifth, I’m not a fan of dispensational eschatology, and I prefer Luther to Calvin (obviously…that’s why I’m Lutheran), but I’m not closed to discussion of anything, either. I’m definitely not on board with the pre-millennial rapture, but I am open to anything in the text that may change my mind. I would take genuine delight in reading well thought out explanations of any eschatological viewpoint if delivered in a scholarly way with good intentions. So share what you believe with me, and I will enjoy reading it.

Sixth, I am not married to literalism. I read the Bible literally when it makes sense in context to do so. When it makes more sense to read it figuratively, I do that. When I cannot immediately discern which path to take, I sit on it for a while and return with commentaries and theologies later.

Finally, I am here because I love the Bible. I am absolutely taken with it, transported by it, and compelled to study it.

I find the epidemic of biblical illiteracy in the Body of Christ profoundly troubling, so I am doing all of this for the sole purpose of spurring interest and curiosity in as many people as I possibly can. In my own small way, in my own small corner of the world, I have to try to reach out and get people back into the Bible. If someone out there in the great wide world sees something I write, and if that takes him or her to Scripture, then I am doing what I’ve set out to do.

I am also here to share my excitement and joy in Bible study. I am here to encourage others to share their own excitement, too, because I want to learn from and enter into fellowship with other Christians who are as excited about Scripture as I am.

God gave us this book, and generation after generation has preserved it for us. People have labored over it, suffered for it, and occasionally died for it. Today, we can read it for free in multiple languages and formats. We can carry it with us everywhere on our devices or buy it in published book forms of every size, color, and description. There are huge libraries of explanations and interpretations and sermons and lessons and study aids available for every question that has ever been asked about every single verse in every book of Scripture. It has never been easier or more accessible. We have no excuses. So.

Let’s read it together and see what comes of it.

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