The PRAISE Method
The Bible as Verses (or Inkblots)
Ever since the Bible was translated into English and copies were made available for everyone to read, there has been an explosion of Christian division, with all sorts of opinions about what verses mean, as well as hundreds—if not thousands—of different denominations: Christians divided about the meaning of the Bible and what’s most important to do and focus on. Dividing and fighting—the opposite of what Jesus intended for the church—became the legacy of much of the Protestant church after “the Bible got out,” so to speak. (Growing up in the Churches of Christ, for example, we and the Baptists across the street rarely had anything good to say about each other—even though we both worshiped Jesus as Lord.)
Actually, through the years since the Bible was made available to everyone, the actual meaning of “the Bible” has changed. What was once a collection (or “library”) of the books of God, has for many become simply “verses” (verses from above or the Bible or somewhere)—often isolated, separated, disconnected from the documents (the “books”) that provide the big-picture context that controls and clarifies their meaning. In other words, we’ve turned “the books of God” into a pile of Rorschach-like inkblots. And, as you know, inkblots don’t communicate anything real or true to someone; they only tell us something about the person looking at the inkblot. (For more on the idea of Bible verses as inkblots, see my book Inkblotitis: Christianity’s Dangerous Disease.)
This is a lot of the reason for this website: rediscovering the books of God from the library of God.
A Movement of Christians to Rediscover the Books of God
I want to be a part of a movement—a movement for all Christians, from all types of denominations and non-denominational churches, to rediscover the books of God. Or to put it another way, when we hear a verse from the Bible or the name of a book from the Bible, we will instantly know enough about that book to know something of the context that gives those verses life and meaning. In fact, we will be able to answer this question: What are the main things God wants us to know and do from this book of the Bible?
Think about that? Name a book of the Bible, or quote a verse from a book. Put a group of Christians in a room, lock the door, and then go around the room (or maybe just ask yourself), what’s the main point or points from this book? . . . from the book of Matthew? How about Mark? From the books of Acts or Romans? What is most important to God from this or that book of God? And how do you know? I suspect we would see some quickly germinating beads of sweat beginning to form and run down the foreheads of these surprised and likely irritated folks.
I want to be a part of a movement that knows the priorities of God from the books of God. To that end, we’re launching a new thing here on this—very young—Library of God website, something we’d like you to be a part of as well. We want to introduce the “Praise” method of studying the Bible. We’ll use six steps. These are the “6 Study Steps,” I’m calling them—to help each of us as individual Bible readers to be able to list/summarize/know the top 3-5 points or purposes of a book of God from the Bible. Then another and another.
And we’re hoping that more and more Bible-readers will want to join us and become a part of this “Bible-book discovery club.” To be a member of this “elite” group , all you have to do is read and explore a book of the Bible with the goal that you come to know the top 3-5 things that you believe—not me or someone else but what you believe—God wants us to know from that book. Once you can do that with one book, you’re in—you’ll be a part of the club. And you know what’s interesting? No, it’s pretty amazing and important: we will likely agree on most of what we see!
The PRAISE Method of Bible Study
For this purpose—to create Bible readers, proud of their ability to list the top 3 or 4 or 5 points of a Bible book (God’s priorities) from their own reading of that book and then to strive to live by those points—I’m introducing the idea of 6 “Study Steps” to help us get to the point where we know and live by God’s messages to us from his books. We’ll use the acronym PRAISE (always the natural and desired result of entering into the presence of God). We want to raise a generation and a culture of Christians who—don’t divide over the Bible torn apart into thousands of inkblots (ironic commonality, huh?), but who—unite in our pursuit of God through his word. We want to raise our ability to hear God through his word. And we want to be raised by God’s Spirit to new levels of life and Christlikeness.
In my two-book series called Inkblotitis: Christianity’s Dangerous Disease, I outlined “10 Rules of Good Bible Reading.” I’d like to combine and reduce that list into these 6 Study Steps to help us get to top 3-5 things that God wants us to know from a given book of the Bible. Here they are:
The 6 Study Steps
1. Pray that God will help you understand what he wants from this book.
2. Read the whole book, preferably several times.
3. Analyze the design of the book (= Discover the structure or “shape” of the text).
4. Interpret the meanings of the sections of the book as they relate to each other.
5. Summarize the main points.
6. Exercise: Live by the main points.
You see it? Of course you do.
Join Us/Sign Up
We’re following this approach now in our online Bible study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Our goal: to be able to list the top 3-5 messages that God wants us to know and to do from these books. It’s not too late to join in that study. Or, as we go forward, we intend to add more Bible-book studies to our online resources.
In order to build a list of interested folks (and you don’t have to do this part to use our resources), if you are interested in our Thessalonians study or this “movement” of PRAISE—to rediscover and know the books of God—then sign up here. We’ll add you to the list and keep you informed of our studies and efforts.