So I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ commands, and then this Paul vs. Jesus thing, and yet have I bothered to be reading the Gospels? How often we (I) end up talking a lot about God and about the Christian life and about theology and yet not praying, not reading, not living it. Yikes.
Every so often I read the Bible cover-to-cover, which takes a really long time, and I get discouraged because however many times I do this, I remember just bits and pieces, and I want to make connections and come to an informed, sound understanding of how the Bible is unified — not by leaving out the bits I don’t like or don’t understand, nor by forcing them too easily into neat clever agreements, but — well, something better than that. Yeah, writing this paragraph I see that this is not a small request nor a quick one. Sigh.
Anyway, I was thinking my next project would be a chronological reading. I’ve found various plans online for this sort of thing, where the various bits of Scripture are lined up in a rough chronological order, so that when David is fleeing from Saul I read that part of 1 or 2 Samuel as well as those particular Psalms, and so that I read the minor prophets along with their historical context in 1 or 2 Kings or Chronicles. Some of the plans put the Old and New Testaments parallel, so that I read a bit of each each day.
Now though I’m feeling the need to be reading the Gospels. Part of me wants to finish my cover-to-cover first, but I know that’s going to take a really long time yet. Part of me wants to quit the cover-to-cover and start the parallel chronological plan. Maybe I ought to just do what I seem to feel the most need for — study the Gospels for a certain time.
I did something like that in college once. Our InterVarsity (a Christian fellowship group) staff person would often pick a book and read it for a whole semester or even a year. I spent a semester of my sophomore year with Philippians and it was a pretty intense experience.
Anyway, I found this post today by the Internet Monk, Michael Spencer, on a variation of the Paul vs. Jesus thing, the trend in the church to focus on Paul and be confused by, neglect, or misrepresent the Gospels.