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4 Ways Examining Multiple Views Will Transform Your Bible Study

John D. BarryThis guest Bible Gateway Blog post is by John D. Barry (@JohnDBarry), general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).


[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

When it comes to Bible study, our tendency is to immediately get to the “right” answer. Yet for many passages, faithful Christians have diverging views. Here are four ways examining multiple viewpoints will transform your Bible study—making it richer than ever before.

Buy your copy of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

1. You Will Learn How to Think about the Bible

When we examine multiple views, we move beyond merely acquiring information; we learn how to think about that information. Critical thinking is a skill that’s honed through closely examining various views for their merits. And it’s a skill we should bring to our Bible study.

This is one of the principles we had in mind when we designed the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. We asked: How can we fairly represent multiple viewpoints, so that people can draw their own conclusions? This question has completely changed the way I read the Bible and explain it. I believe it will do the same for you.

2. You Will Claim Truth for Yourself

For far too long many of us have relied on others to study our Bibles. We get pre-packaged answers from our radio programs and books. But to really understand the Bible, we must directly wrestle with it.

Someone else cannot summit a mountain for me. I don’t know what Everest is like from watching a movie. I have to feel the cold in my bones. The same is true of Bible study. We cannot claim the Bible as our book without deeply engaging it. We cannot be a people of the Christian faith without wrestling with the difficulties of Scripture. Why not go deep and feed your curiosity?

Likewise, when we understand why people understand the Bible differently, we have an opportunity to decide for ourselves what we think. We can decide which hill we want to stand on—and claim it for our own, because we’ve done the worthwhile work to do so.

3. You Will See Difficulties and Appreciate Scripture for Them

The Bible is a difficult text to interpret. It’s from the ancient world and written in the context of the ancient world. And furthermore, it’s about the most complicated topic of all—the God who created everything. We cannot expect Bible study to be easy. But this is not a reason to turn away from the Bible.

We love complicated movies and novels, because they offer intrigue. The Bible is the same. When you engage with its difficulties—really trying to understand it—you appreciate it all the more. Bible study is far more rewarding.

4. You Will Better Understand Your Maker

God is infinite. Thus, our relationships with him have an infinite possibility for depth. Whenever we enter the depths of Scripture, we should aim to wrestle with the God who made us. This is how we go deeper in our faith.

I now intentionally wrestle with multiple viewpoints, because I want to be sure that I fully understand all that Scripture could mean. I then make an intentional effort to challenge my understanding of God through prayer. I’m not necessarily looking for the “right” answer, but instead the process of transformation. I’m looking for God to change me with his truth. I’m asking God how he wants to use my life to offer love and hope to others.

I’ve found this approach to Bible study to be refreshing. It’s made me more empathetic to other views. It’s helped me dialogue with those I may not necessarily agree with. And it’s helped me be fair to the viewpoints within the Christian tradition. But above all else, it’s drawn me closer to Jesus—and there’s nothing better than that.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 6 Steps to Take Your Bible Study from Dull to Incredible]


John D. Barry is general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible and the CEO of Jesus’ Economy, an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. At JesusEconomy.org, people create jobs for the impoverished by shopping fair trade. They can also give directly to a cause they’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world. Anyone can join the movement at JesusEconomy.org.

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit www.NIVFaithlifeStudyBible.com.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of March 12, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
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Evangelical Heritage Version: A New Bible Translation from Lutherans Coming October 2017
Cranach: The Blog of Veith
Read multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway

Jesus Film Project® Study Confirms Billions Have Heard the Gospel Around the World
News Release
Read multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway
Read the Gospel of Luke (GNT) on Bible Gateway (The Good News Translation (GNT) is used in the English “JESUS” film)
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Timor-Leste Diocese Dedicates Year to the Bible
Union of Catholic Asian News

Deaf History Month and Conversations on Scripture Access for the Deaf
Mission Network News

Hand Writing Words of Entire Bible Helps 80-Year-Old Mississippi Man Gain Personal Insight
Sun Herald

Former Muslim Now a Bible Distributor in Kenya
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?—An Interview with Nabeel Qureshi
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Interview: Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
See the Understanding Islam section in the Bible Gateway Store

The World’s Fastest Growing Religion? Islam
CNN

The Bible Garden: A Spiritual Garden Containing Plants from the Bible
Canberra Times
The Jewish Voice: Ancient Grains Come Full Circle in Temple Sinai’s Biblical Garden

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

The Hum of Angels: An Interview with Scot McKnight

Scot McKnightMost people believe in angels. But it’s what we believe about them that matters. Have our preconceived notions about angels been shaped by sensationalized popular opinion rather than by true biblical representation? From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation, Scripture is filled with hundreds of references to these messengers of God.

Bible Gateway interviewed Scot McKnight (@scotmcknight) about his book, The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us (WaterBrook, 2017).

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Explain the meaning of the title, The Hum of Angels.

Scot McKnight: I was in a bird store one day, struck up a conversation with the owner, and I mentioned in passing while looking at a hummingbird feeder that I had one but couldn’t attract hummers. He asked where we live, I told him, and he immediately said, “They’re all around you. But you have to have an ear and eye for them.” So, we bought another one, put it up and waited. And before long we had hummers; and we developed an eye for their sudden and sharp moves and an ear for their humming.

The same with angels: they’re here and around us; perhaps all around us. But we have to have an ear for them and an eye for them, and that only comes when we have the courage and faith to open ourselves to a world inhabited by more than humans and animals. There are angels around us.

According to the Bible, what are angels’ purpose?

Scot McKnight: In The Hum of Angels I develop a theology of the mission of angels on the basis of the mission of God in this world. Here’s how it goes: God is love so all God does is loving. God’s love entails a covenant commitment on the part of with us, and that covenant commitment means a promise to be with us and for us, and God’s covenant is shaped toward our redemption.

Angels are spirits on mission, and that mission is God’s. So, we can say that God, out of his love, sends angels to aid us in our redemption. Angels are sent for our redemption, and that redemption leads us all the way into the heights of worship.

How do angels teach the Bible’s big ideas?

Scot McKnight: What’s surprising in the Bible about angels, and my book’s attempt to shackle our ideas about angels to the Bible, is how frequently they appear in major moments: think of angels and Abraham and Moses and Isaiah and Daniel and Jesus and Peter and Paul and John. They are there when big things happen: they’re at the birth of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection, and the Parousia.

So angels are involved in revealing the covenant, the law, the coming of Christ, the appearing of Christ, the redemptive work of Christ, and the second coming of Christ. Angels reveal by way of explaining what’s happening; that is, a child will be born and he will be called the Son of the Most High. Mary knows the identity and mission of her son because an angel told her.

Why are the first words out of angels’ mouths in the Bible many times, “fear not”?

Scot McKnight: When Kris and I were on sabbatical in Assisi, Italy we wandered daily through churches and we had fun with what we called the “chubby cherubs.” The only other kind of angel in the frescoes and paintings of those churches were wispy seraphs. I saw no angel that did anything other than brought me comfort or coaxed a smile from me.

The angels of the Bible terrify the humans to whom they visit; they startle and scare and even stun the humans. Why? Because in the Bible angels are colossal figures, fiery in light and, more often than not, overwhelming in their power. Angels, then, in the Bible are supernatural beings that humble us in their presence.

Should we be afraid of angels?

Scot McKnight: I’ve not seen an angel like that. But angels, inasmuch as they come from the Throne Room of the Thrice-holy God, usher us into the presence of God once removed and such encounters with God are more powerful and overwhelming than ordinary moments with God. So, yes, angels will frequently—even when they’re comforting us with good news—touch the awe of God’s eternal presence and drive us to our knees before our God of glory. But, “afraid” can be a tricky word. Yes, and no; awe is the better word. They do not intend to intimidate or scare, but their overwhelming glory and being will stun us into sudden contact with what is far beyond us.

Is there a hierarchy of angels?

Scot McKnight: Big issue. In The Hum of Angels I examine the history of this discussion and I join hands with Karl Barth on this one: most of this is a bucket of nonsense (my words, his substance).

In an era of neo-Platonic and quasi-gnostic beliefs in orders and strata in the heavenly places, some such theologians came up with a hierarchy—using some of the Bible’s own terms like principalities and authorities and then filled it in by assigning these biblical terms to various levels, which the Bible itself does not do. The man who did this and set the ball rolling was Pseudo-Dionysius. And then St Thomas Aquinas, in his classic Aristotelian mode of thinking, perfected the hierarchy into a science. In all due respect, I’m a Bible guy and I don’t see it in the Bible sufficiently to embrace the speculation. We’re better off without it.

Do people have a specific guardian angel?

Scot McKnight: Many serious Christians and theologians think so. There’s no doubt the Bible talks about angels guarding us. For instance, the wilderness wanderings of Israel were accompanied by an angel (Exodus 23:20) and clearly Jesus said something that sounds like a guardian angel: “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). These kinds of texts in the Bible have led to a full development of guardian angels.

Some think we each have a guardian angel while others think we don’t have an assigned guardian angel, while yet others think God at times—but not always and not by assignment to each of us—sends an angel on a mission of guarding. The Bible’s evidence that each of us has a specific, assigned guardian angel is not as solid as some think, so I’m with those who think sometimes God sends guardian angels but that we don’t have a specific guardian angel. What then do I do with those who think they have one? Perhaps they do, but I don’t sense that I have one. Nor does my wife or anyone I’ve ever talked to. But perhaps they’re with us just beyond our hearing and sight. What matters more is that we know God loves us and seeks our redemption, at times through angels.

Can we (should we) talk to angels?

Scot McKnight: I’ve never spoken with an angel, though one time I felt the awesome weight and glory of God’s presence in an angel in my bedroom as I kneeled in prayer. I kept my eyes closed, good Baptist that I was at the time, so I never knew if it was an angel. (I now am reasonably confident it was.)

In the Bible angels speak and humans speak back to them. This is the case with Mary in Luke 1. The angel speaks, Mary questions, and it goes back and forth. Abraham speaks with angels. So I would contend the Bible has enough evidence of angels speaking and humans speaking that speaking with an angel today would be reasonable. I’ve heard enough stories and read such that confirm that Christians today do speak with angels.

Are angels worship leaders?

Scot McKnight: The ultimate end of redemption is that we worship God with our whole being and in the whole company of the redeemed. Angels emerge from the presence of God and worship of God, are sent on mission for our redemption, so it doesn’t surprise me to read in the Bible of angels leading us into the presence of God in worship. Psalm 29:1 exhorts the angels to worship God, and we read the same in Psalm 148:1-6. The angels worship Jesus, as we see at Luke 2:13. Revelation 5:6-12 describes the angels leading the redeemed in praise of God.

I’m convinced of this: angels are sent from the presence of God where they worship and they arrive in our presence with the ultimate aim of leading us into the presence of God to join them in worship.


Bio: Scot McKnight is the author of more than 50 books, including The Jesus Creed, and The Heaven Promise. A popular speaker at events such as Catalyst and Q Conference, Scot is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. His blog, Jesus Creed, has 3 million page views annually. He and his wife, Kris, live in the Chicago suburbs.

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Gain Something For Lent (Don’t Just Give Something Up)

We’re nearly a week into the season of Lent. Did you commit to “give something up” during Lent? It’s a common practice during the Easter season, but it can certainly be a challenge to give up a long-held habit or activity, whether the change is major (giving up a deeply-ingrained habit) or relatively minor (staying off of Facebook).

If you’re already wavering on your Lent commitment, perhaps a simple shift in perspective will help. In this video devotional, Sheri Rose Shepherd suggests that we stop asking “What should I give up?” and instead ask “What can I gain?” The whole purpose of a Lent commitment is to gain a closer relationship with Jesus Christ—and that makes the sacrifice of a habit seem minor in comparison to what you’re receiving in return. Here’s the video:

Sheri Rose Shepherd is the author of THRIVE, a free weekly email devotional that imagines what it would be like to receive encouraging and challenging personal letters from God.

If you’re looking for more devotional insight during the approach to Easter, don’t forget that our Easter devotions are now underway—click here to sign up for Easter-themed devotionals that draw from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dallas Willard, and others!

Easter devotions at Bible Gateway

NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word

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Intriguing Insights from Multiple Points of View Reveals Nuances from the Original Biblical Languages for Modern Readers
— Visually Stunning: Filled with Innovative Graphics —

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No matter where people are on their faith journey, there’s always more to explore in God’s Word.

[Read the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]

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Filled with innovative graphics and rich commentary, the new NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible) is visually stunning and delivers helpful insights designed to inform people’s faith. Robust study notes are built on the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek biblical languages.

“Partnering with Faithlife—the creators of Logos Bible Software—to bring the content from their robust study Bible app into a fresh, innovative print edition in the bestselling NIV translation was a natural fit,” says Melinda Bouma, associate publisher, Zondervan Bible Group.

“Faithlife had taken on a challenging task of working from the original languages when developing these notes, creating compelling and thoughtful notes to help a reader understand the text, and, where possible, to help them explore various angles to the text,” says Bouma. “Pairing those notes with the innovative infographics in this rich, full-color Bibles makes for a powerful study experience for the curious reader.”

The balance of striking graphics, comprehensive study features, and intriguing insights from multiple points of view invites readers to dive in and feed their curiosity as they explore the treasures of God’s Word.

Click the image to view in a new window an interactive sampler of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible
Click the image to view in a new window an interactive sampler of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible

Features of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (website) include:

  • The full text of the most read, most trusted modern-English Bible—the New International
    Version (NIV)
  • In-depth book introductions, including an outline and information on authorship, background, structure, and themes—as well as a map, a timeline, or both
  • Verse-by-verse study notes revealing nuances from the original biblical languages for modern readers
  • Informative contributions by respected scholars and best-selling authors including Charles Stanley, Randy Alcorn, and Ed Stetzer
  • Over 100 innovative full-color infographics, comprehensive timelines, and informative tables to enrich Bible study
  • 3 detailed life-of-Jesus event timelines chronicling his infancy and early ministry, the journey to Jerusalem, and the passion and resurrection
  • 27 family trees and people diagrams illustrating the interconnectedness of key characters in Scripture
  • Helpful overview articles giving a bird’s-eye view of the books of the Bible, noting the type of literature and key themes of each book
  • 14 original color maps at the back of the Bible providing historical and geographical context for key events of the Old and New Testaments

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible is available in several bindings.

A blog tour is underway to help readers stay curious about the Bible:

About the NIV:
The New International Version (NIV) is the world’s bestselling modern-English Bible translation—accurate, readable, and clear, yet rich with the detail found in the original languages. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica, a nonprofit ministry organization, translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world. To learn more, visit www.thenivbible.com.

About Zondervan:
Zondervan is a world leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, Mich. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com.

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The Essentials of Christian Thought: An Interview with Roger E. Olson

Roger E. OlsonChristians may disagree on doctrine, politics, church government, and other issues, but what are the biblical core elements that motivate all Christians everywhere to share a unified outlook on God and the world, and that separates Christianity from other religious and secular perspectives?

Bible Gateway interviewed Roger E. Olson about his book, The Essentials of Christian Thought: Seeing Reality Through the Biblical Story (Zondervan, 2017).

Buy your copy of The Essentials of Christian Thought in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

You write that your book is “an explanation of the hidden background within the biblical narrative.” Please explain.

Roger E. Olson: The biblical writers assumed many things about reality that modern, Western people do not assume because we’ve been conditioned by our cultures to assume otherwise. We, including many Christians, read the Bible through “eyes” conditioned by, and even accommodated to, modern Western culture plus the influences of messages and ideas from other cultures that are alien to the worldview of the biblical writers. Therefore, in order fully to understand the Bible and allow the Bible to absorb the world (rather than the world—culture—absorb the Bible) we must practice an “archaeology” of the biblical writers’ implicit, assumed view of reality.

They did not feel the need to “spell it out” because they could take much for granted–such as that ultimate reality, the reality “behind” observable reality, is personal and involved in our world, its history, and our lives. Today we cannot assume people, even all Christians, understand the Bible’s implicit, underlying view of reality. We have to dig it out and show it to people, including Christians, and ask them to “see reality as this” rather than “as that”—where “that” refers to any number of unbiblical ideas about reality.

You extensively use the term “ultimate reality” in The Essentials of Christian Thought. What do you mean?

Roger E. Olson: “Ultimate reality” is the highest, deepest, eternal, unchangeable, source and ground of everything we see, touch, and experience with our five senses. It’s that which gives being and meaning to everything finite, mortal, changeable. It’s also that toward which we creatures look and live—whether we know it or not—our telos; our goal and purpose.

For Christians ultimate reality is and can only be a personal, sovereign, holy, and loving God. But even some Christians, under extra-biblical and even anti-Christian cultural influences read the Bible as pointing to something not ultimate, such as material wealth, health, happiness, power, etc. The Heidelberg Catechism rightly says, for all Christians who allow the Bible to absorb the world for them—who see reality through the biblical story—that the purpose of life is to glorify God—a personal being who is ultimate over us and everything else—and enjoy him forever. This should be clear to all Christians, but many Christians have been influenced to think otherwise even about the Bible because of dabbling in movements such as the New Age Movement or the Gospel of Health and Wealth or even naturalistic humanism.

Why do you think the Bible isn’t as clear on some matters as we’d like it to be?

Roger E. Olson: The biblical writers didn’t need to say everything; they could assume some things. They didn’t anticipate a day when even Jews and Christians would fall under influences of non-biblical religions, philosophies, and worldviews, to the extent that is now the case in our pluralistic culture and society.

To some of us, raised and trained in allowing the Bible to absorb the world (that is, to “see” all of reality through the biblical story), the Bible is quite clear about all really important matters.

However, if the biblical writers were writing today they might spell out some things more clearly, given how easily even Christians fall into thinking in ways alien and foreign to the biblical story of God and creation. For example, today, under the influences of Eastern religions and philosophies imported into the West, many Christians confuse God’s Spirit with our spirit and think our spirit is a spark of the divine, “the God within everyone.” That’s not how the biblical writers thought about our spirits or souls. We’re created in God’s image, but our souls or spirits are not offshoots of God’s own Spirit—as New Age teachers would have us believe.

How should Christians see reality through the biblical story?

Roger E. Olson: It comes through training within a Bible-centered community of faith that’s not afraid to say “No, that message about reality is wrong because it fundamentally contradicts the biblical story about reality.”

For example, a very prevalent advertising mantra is “no limits.” We’re creatures, so we have limits. The idea of having no limits, either through education or money or possessions or power, is radically alien to everything the Bible assumes and says. Only God has no limits (except those he voluntarily imposes on himself). The mantra “no limits” is actually a call to idolatry.

How does the Bible convey the idea that God is vulnerable?

Roger E. Olson: The Bible portrays God as entering into covenants with people which, when broken, causes him grief and sorrow. The biblical prophet Hosea and God’s using him as an illustration of how much Israel’s idolatry costs God emotionally points to God’s vulnerability. But also the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ who, even as God the Son, suffered for our sins, points to God’s vulnerability.

As the perfect parent, God suffers emotional pain when his creatures, created in his own image and likeness, rebel against him and do evil instead of good.

What is biblical Christian-humanism?

Roger E. Olson: It is simply the idea, rooted in Scripture itself, that human beings are special, of higher dignity and worth than other animals, because they’re created in God’s own image and likeness. It’s actually true humanism.

Humanism cannot survive on a purely secular platform. Only a loving and covenant-making personal God can provide humans with unique dignity, worth, and rights. Blind nature cannot do that. So, for the Christian, “secular humanism” is an oxymoron.

How will Christians strengthen their faith and view of the Bible by reading your book?

Roger E. Olson: I hope that reading The Essentials of Christian Thought will aid Christians in clarifying their view of reality, separating that which is biblical from that which is secular or pantheistic (for example), and avoiding believing messages in culture that are contrary to the biblical view of reality. It’s an exercise in what James Sire called “discipleship of the mind.”

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Roger E. Olson: There’s nothing easy or simple or even entertaining (in our contemporary American sense of that word) in disciplining our minds to “see” reality through biblical lenses; it takes effort and time. But Christians who don’t take that effort and time will inevitably succumb to some of the anti-biblical and anti-Christian messages that bombard us every day through advertising, entertainment, etc.

Far too many American (and other) Christians revel in feelings and/or morality and don’t care to develop a biblically-shaped Zeitgeist or worldview. The result is folk religion rather than classical, historical Christianity which has always included sound theology.


Bio: Roger E. Olson is the Foy Valentine professor of Christian theology and ethics at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. Before that he was professor of theology at Bethel University in Minnesota for fifteen years. He earned his PhD in religious studies (with concentration in theology) at Rice University and studied for a year under theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich. Dr. Olson is the author of many books, including Questions to All Your Answers, Reformed and Always Reforming, How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative, and Finding God in the Shack. He’s written numerous articles for a wide variety of publications including Christianity Today and Christian Century. During the 1990s he was editor of Christian Scholar’s Review, a scholarly journal dedicated to the integration of Christian faith and learning.

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KJV, NKJV, and NIV Bibles Get Typeface Makeover

Buy your copy of the KJV, Thinline Bible, Large Print, Green Cloth over Board, Red Letter Edition with the new Comfort Print® font in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Eye fatigue will no longer cut short readers’ time in God’s Word. Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson) and Zondervan (@Zondervan) are now publishing their King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), and New International Version (NIV) Bibles with exclusive Comfort Print® fonts.

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Designed with precision and purpose, the new Comfort Print® KJV, NKJV, and NIV fonts allow readers’ eyes to flow smoothly along the lines of text so they can take in more of the story.

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“We believe the Bible contains the very words of God, so we have an obligation and a commitment to make sure those words are presented in the best, most readable application that modern design and technology can provide,” says Melinda Bouma, associate publisher, Zondervan Bible Group.

Thomas Nelson (@NelsonBibles) and Zondervan teamed with the world’s foremost Bible type foundry, 2K/DENMARK (@2KDENMARK), to develop three proprietary typefaces for Thomas Nelson KJV (@ThomasNelsonKJV), Thomas Nelson NKJV (@NKJVbible), and Zondervan NIV (@NIVBible) Bibles. Each of these handcrafted typefaces is comprised of multiple fonts, drawing out the character of these special translations while simultaneously making Bible reading more comfortable and enjoyable. The first new Comfort Print® Bibles will release in March in the KJV translation.

Buy your copy of the KJV, Thinline Bible, Standard Print, Purple/Gray Cloth over Board, Red Letter Edition with the new Comfort Print® font in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

“Presenting the Word of God in these Comfort Print® typefaces will deeply impact a new generation of readers,” says Bouma.

To learn more about the new Comfort Print® fonts, visit www.ComfortPrintBibles.com.

About Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson is a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years. As part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the publishing group provides multiple formats of award-winning Bibles, books, gift books, cookbooks, curriculum and digital content, with distribution of its products in more than 100 countries. Thomas Nelson, is headquartered in Nashville, TN. For additional information visit www.thomasnelson.com.

Buy your copy of the KJV, Thinline Bible, Compact, Imitation Leather, Burgundy, Red Letter Edition with the new Comfort Print® font in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

About Zondervan
Zondervan is a world leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, Mich. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com.

About 2K/DENMARK
2K/DENMARK was founded in 1987. Today they offer a range of high quality services, both digitally and in printed media. 2K are designers, and that shines through in their type design, typesetting, and app development. With their roots deep in typography, design, and art history, they understand and respect the craft, but they also dare to find new solutions using new technology—innovation turns most parts of their business. Learn more at www.2kdenmark.com.

Bible News Roundup – Week of March 5, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
Bible Gateway Weekly Brief
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Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

KJV, NKJV, and NIV Bibles Get Typeface Makeover
News Release

NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word
News Release

Arkansas Legislator Proposes Resolution to Make Bible Official State Book
THV11
The Kansas City Star: Arkansas Panel Endorses Naming Bible State’s Official Book
Read the resolution

Bill to Allow Bible Course in Kentucky Schools Moves Forward
WKYT

Pope Francis: ‘Consult the Bible as Often as Your Cellphone’
News.va
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible
See Catholic Bibles in the Bible Gateway Store

Collector Finds Rare 1787 Martin Luther Bible online
Herald & Review
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Ancient 600 BC Palace of Biblical Assyrian King Sennacherib Discovered
FOX News
Read about King Sennacherib in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
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The Story of Reality: An Interview with Gregory Koukl

Gregory KouklIs biblical Christianity more than merely another private religious view? Is it more than a personal relationship with God or a source of moral teaching? Consider Christianity to be reality itself.

Bible Gateway interviewed Gregory Koukl (@gregkoukl) about his book, The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How it Ends, and Everything in Between (Zondervan, 2017).

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Why is your book titled The Story of Reality?

Gregory Koukl: First, I wanted to offer a kind of primer on Christianity’s basics—the essential elements—but I didn’t want to write a theological textbook. Rather, I wanted to show how the important pieces fit together in a fascinating drama—a story, of sorts. I also wanted the reader to enjoy the journey, so I adopted a storytelling “voice” for the narrative. I wanted anyone who picked up the book to feel I was talking directly with them; that I was personally walking them through the account of how the world began, how it ends, and everything important that happens in between.

Second, I wanted to continually press the point that what I describe in the book is not my personal spiritual fantasy, my religious wishful thinking, or my make-believe-to-make-me-feel-happy kind of story. The Story doesn’t start out “Once upon a time” for a reason. It doesn’t mean to be telling a fairy tale. Rather, I wanted the reader to understand that this is the Story of the way the world truly is; that the things the Story describes actually exist and the events in the Story really happened (or, in some places, are yet to happen).

Nowadays, people have a habit of relativizing religion, reducing it to “your truth” versus “my truth” versus “their truth,” and that’s the end of it. But as I say in the book, “If the Story is not accurate to reality, it’s not any kind of truth at all. So it can never be ‘my truth’ or ‘your truth,’ even though we may believe it. It can only be our delusion or our mistake or our error, but it can never be our ‘truth.’” I want people to see that Christianity claims to be true in the deep sense, and if it isn’t, then it solves nothing at all.

Since the Christian Story is so dependent on the Bible, how do we know we can trust the Bible?

Gregory Koukl: My approach is not to simply tell our Story and claim it’s true because it’s in the Bible. Rather, I give the biblical view of reality and include reasons why people should think the Bible got the Story right. It’s what I call “soft apologetics”—thoughtful reflections that are friendly appeal to common-sense insights we all have about the world that point to the truthfulness of the Christian take on reality.

I also wanted readers (especially Christian readers) to see that the two biggest objections to Christianity—the problem of evil and Jesus being the only way—are not the problems for us that people think they are; that a proper understanding of the Story shows how these two fit together perfectly, complementing each other in a remarkable way. One of our deepest concerns about the world is, “What went wrong?” The Story answers that question, and gives the singular solution: God’s Rescuer.

So in a sense, then, the Story itself gives credibility to the Bible’s claim. It has tremendous explanatory power. When my daughter was eight, she asked me why we believe our Story is true. I simply said, “Honey, we believe the Story because it’s the best explanation for the way things are.” It’s an accounting of the way the world actually is.

In The Story of Reality, you simplify the Christian Story into five elements. What are they and why did you select them?

Gregory Koukl: I wanted to engage my reader in a way that was memorable and accessible. The structure is simple. The book is built around five words that tell the most important details of the Christian Story in the order they took place: God, man, Jesus, cross, and (the final) resurrection—beginning to end. These words identify the theological backbone to the Christian story. They include all the essentials but they also sketch the plotline of the Story.

You write that every person, Christian or not, has a worldview, and that every worldview has four elements. What are those four elements?

Gregory Koukl: A worldview is simply someone’s relatively organized understanding of what the world is actually like. Everyone has a belief system in his or her mind, a story about the way they think the world actually is, even if they haven’t thought about it much or worked out all the details. Every religion, every philosophy, every individual outlook on life tells a story of reality.

Worldviews have four elements that help us understand how a person’s story fits together: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. “Creation” tells us how things began, where everything came from (including us), the reason for our origins, and what ultimate reality is like. “Fall” describes the problem (since we all know something has gone wrong with the world). “Redemption” gives us the solution, the way to fix what went wrong. “Restoration” describes what the world would look like once the repair begins to take place.

Why is it so important that the beginning of the Christian Story start with the person of God?

Gregory Koukl: Every story has a beginning. The first words of our Story go like this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” First, notice that the Story begins with a person, not a thing. That’s because God existed before He made anything else, and He Himself was never made. God is eternal. God is also the very first piece of the Christian Story because the Story is all about Him. He is the central character, not us. The Story is not so much about God’s plan for our lives as it is about our lives for God’s plan.

What are some competing stories about the origins of our universe? How do they fall short?

Gregory Koukl: In the Christian Story, mind and matter—invisible things and visible things—are both real. The Christian view is not the only way of viewing the world, of course. It has competition.

According to the first alternative, “matter-ism,” matter is all that exists. The only things that are real are physical things in motion governed by natural law. That story starts, “In the beginning were the particles,” or, as one famous person put it, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” No God. No souls. No Heaven or Hell. No miracles. No transcendent morality. Just molecules in motion following the patterns of natural law. This is the story that most atheists, most “skeptics,” most humanists, and most Marxists believe is true.

The second alternative, “mind-ism,” is that Mind is all that exists—a Divine Mind. This story starts, “In the beginning, Mind,” and this is where the story ends, too, because there is nothing more. God is in everything—people, animals, nature, the cosmos—simply because he is everything (‘pantheism”). Indeed, the particular things we’re aware of—even ourselves, curiously—aren’t even things at all. Only the one thing, the impersonal God, is real. All else is an illusion called maya. Some Eastern religions promote this picture of the world, as do versions of the New Age.

Here’s one serious problem with both of those options. Almost everyone agrees the world is not the way it ought to be. It’s called the problem of evil. Yet neither of these alternatives can even make sense of real evil, much less answer the challenge. In matter-ism (materialism), there can be nothing wrong with the world since there is no right way for the world to be in the first place. Everything is just matter in motion and that’s that. In Mind-ism (monism) there’s a different route to the same problem. There cannot be a problem of evil, even in principle, since in Mind-ism even morality is maya; illusion. In neither story, then (if we’re to be consistent with their principles), can the issue of evil be raised. But in real life the problem comes up all the time. That’s the difficulty.

In all of creation, is there something that makes humans special? What does that mean for moral values and human rights?

Gregory Koukl: What the Story tells us about man (humans) is something virtually everyone already knows: human beings are special. We’re creatures (we’re not little gods), but we’re also more than creatures. In fact, we’re the most wonderful creatures in the world next to God. Our souls—our invisible selves—bear the mark of God Himself. We’re like God in that we bear His image. Our value is built into us, and nothing and no one can take it away.

Our innate, built-in human value is the reason we have binding duties or obligations towards each other that we don’t have towards any other kind of thing. It’s also the reason we have unalienable human rights. If man’s God-given, special value falls, then unalienable human rights fall, too. If man is not special, if he’s not deeply different from any other thing, then there’s no good reason not to treat him just like any other thing when it’s convenient for us to do so.

If God is good, then why do we experience evil in the world?

Gregory Koukl: People are tempted to think (understandably) that if God were really good He’d never allow any evil in the world at all. But I don’t think a perfectly good God would never permit any evil, and neither would others, I wager, if they thought about it. Rather, I think that a good God always prevents suffering and evil unless He has a good reason to allow it. That’s the crux. Sometimes (at least in principle) God might allow some evil because doing so will prevent a greater evil, and sometimes He might allow evil because it will produce a greater good (I give common-sense examples of both in the book). What might that look like in our Story?

The Story teaches that God created man to share friendship with Him and share in His happiness. Though it’s hard to be completely certain about things like this, I have a suspicion that only someone with deep freedom (one who makes decisions for reasons that are his own) and who’s also a moral being (can experience goodness) can have a meaningful friendship with God. If friendship with God and sharing in His happiness are good things (and it seems they are), then making a creature who could enjoy these things is also a good thing, even if it comes with a liability. There’s a risk.

Man had freedom to choose the good, but this same freedom also allowed him to choose the bad. This is called moral freedom. Put simply, something good made something bad possible (though not inevitable). Humans, however, didn’t use their freedom well. Instead of using it to honor God in friendship, they used it to rebel. When God’s children disobeyed their heavenly Father, they damaged everything. When Adam and Eve rebelled against the King of the universe, they broke the whole world. This is why there is evil and suffering. Bad things happen in a world that’s broken.

Note two things, though. First, trouble, hardship, difficulty, pain, suffering, conflict, tragedy, evil—they’re all part of the Story. Indeed, the problem of evil is the reason there’s any Story at all. Second—and more important—our Story is not over yet. Evil did not catch God by surprise. He had a rescue plan, and He’s still in the process of working out His plan.

What reasons do we have to believe that Jesus really existed and that he was really God?

Gregory Koukl: Our reasons for believing Jesus existed and also that He was who He claimed to be—the God who came down—are the same reasons for believing any fact of history: the documentation is substantial and it passes all the tests of historical reliability. Scholars—both liberal and conservative—overwhelming agree that Jesus of Nazareth was a man of history and the Gospels, on the main, tell His story accurately.

Show me any other person who appears in the historical record with such regularity who turned out, in the final analysis, to be a fiction. Why so many mentions regarding Jesus from such a wide variety of sources (Pliny, Tacitus, Lucian, Josephus, to name a few)? Because Jesus of Nazareth was a man of history, who made a profound impact on history. There’s no good reason to doubt that Jesus existed, or to think the real Jesus was completely different from the one depicted in the Story.

What’s the one thing you would most want a reader to take away from your book?

Gregory Koukl: I want readers of The Story of Reality to understand Christianity in a way they never have before. Most Christians who’ve been around for a while have their Story in bits and pieces, but have never seen how powerful it really is when assembled as a whole. I want them to see how well it fits together and how it offers tremendous explanatory power regarding the world as we actually find it. I want them to see how it resolves the problem of evil, and why God’s solution—the God/man Jesus—is the only solution. I also want them to see why they can be completely confident that Christianity is actually “true Truth,” as Francis Schaeffer used to put it. God really does exist, Heaven actually is real (along with Hell), Jesus really did live and He did the things the historical records—the Gospels—say He did, the resurrection of Christ really happened, and there really is hope each of us can count on for “the kind of perfect world our hearts have always longed for.”

But I want non-believers to see that, too. Every time I sat down to write, my chief thought was reaching out to the moderately-interested skeptic in a way that would not offend him with condescension and empty slogans, would hold his interest and get him thinking, and would help him see that a chief reason for taking the Christian Story seriously is that it simply is “the best explanation for the way things are.”


Bio: Gregory Koukl holds MA degrees in both apologetics and philosophy. The author of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, he’s spoken on over 70 university campuses and hosted his own radio talk show for 27 years defending “Christianity worth thinking about.” Greg is founder and president of Stand to Reason (str.org) and serves as adjunct professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University.

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How You Can Observe Lent in 2017

Today is Fat Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday), the day before Lent begins! Fat Tuesday isn’t associated with a specific event or story in the Bible, but it’s traditionally a day when Christians planning to observe Lent would prepare for that 40-day period of fasting and reflection.

If you haven’t given much thought to Lent or Easter this year, now is a great time to take a few minutes and consider how you can draw closer to God’s Word and to Jesus during the Easter season. Not all Christians observe the Lenten season, of course—there’s no command in the Bible to do so. However, Christians around the world and from many different theological traditions do choose to observe the Easter season in different ways.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:

1. How Can You Observe Lent This Year? — a list of practical ways that you can renew your focus on Jesus Christ during Lent. They range from very simple and easy acts to major commitments. See if they spark any ideas!

2. Sign up for Lent and Easter devotions — walk through the Easter season with devotional insights from writers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dallas Willard! We’ve carefully selected these devotionals to challenge and inspire you.

3. Follow a Bible reading plan during Lent — our library of Bible reading plans contains several that are perfectly suited for following during Lent: the Read the Gospels in 40 Days plan, Readings for Lent and Easter, and 40 Days with God. Sign up for one and see what a difference daily Bible reading can make!

4. Connect more deeply with the Bible with these Scripture Engagement practices — our Scripture Engagement section has dozens of practical articles to help you get to know your Bible better. Bible reading practices like Lectio Divina and the Ignatian Method are particularly appropriate for Lent.

However you observe Lent this year (and even if you aren’t observing it at all), we hope the Lenten season is one in which you draw closer to Christ and rediscover the joy of reading and studying God’s Word.