Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Year of Living Biblically

So there is this magazine editor, A. J. Jacobs, who decides to spend a year trying to follow the Bible as literally as possible. He wrote a book about his experience. Here is link to an excerpt from his book, it's an interesting read. Why did he do this you ask? Here are his reasons:

First, since the Bible requires me to tell the truth (Proverbs 26:28), I must confess that part of the reason is to write this book. A couple of years ago, I came out with a book about reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all of it, from A to Z — or more specifically, from a-ak (East Asian music) to Zywiec (a town in southern Poland known for its beer). What could I do next? The only intellectual adventure that seemed a worthy follow-up was to explore the most influential book in the world, the all-time best-seller, the Bible.

(I don't have a problem with book writing, I would like to write a book.)

Second, this project would be my visa to a spiritual world. I wouldn't just be studying religion. I'd be living it. If I had what they call a God-shaped hole in my heart, this quest would allow me to fill it. If I had a hidden mystical side, this year would bring it out of the closet. If I wanted to understand my forefathers, this year would let me live like they did, but with less leprosy.

(John 14:6 comes to mind.)

And third, this project would be a way to explore the huge and fascinating topic of biblical literalism. Millions of Americans say they take the Bible literally. According to a 2005 Gallup poll, the number hovers near 33 percent; a 2004 Newsweek poll put it at 55 percent. A literal interpretation of the Bible — both Jewish and Christian — shapes American policies on the Middle East, homosexuality, stem cell research, education, abortion — right on down to rules about buying beer on Sunday.

(I don't think he has a good handle on the topic yet)


Bino B. Manjasseril said...

If he lives bible literally, I would probably check if he still has his both eyes, both hands and both foot! (Mark 9:43-47)

How is he doing in - 'Love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemy' area?

How much of his possessions he recently sold to give to poor(Luke 18:22)?

Has he gone to 'all the world and preach the good news to all the creation'? (Mk 16:15)

And finally I will check if He is as perfect as the Father in Heaven? (Mat 5:48)

Daelon said...

Very interesting. I just hope no fundamentalist gets a hold of him.

You know, last night I was watching 700 Club and it was the part where they pray the sinners prayer. I didn't hear them mention the gospel at all. I heard: "Come into my heart, Jesus and I promise I will follow you all the days of my life."

I don't mean to nitpick...Yes I do. That ain't the gospel. Thats "I'll dedicate my life to you, if you save me, Jesus." Then the Christian wanders around wondering why he/she can't love Jesus like they want to.

Judah Himango said...

Yeah, his approach is a bit silly.

He took Deut 14:25 wrong too. It says,

"then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose."

But he claims it means,

"The Bible says to bind money to your hand (Deuteronomy 14:25)"

I'm not sure how he derives that bit. Anyways, it's kind of interesting nonetheless.

Joel Brueseke said...

I heard the tail end of this story on the radio the other day, and I had wondered if I had the story straight. Now I know I heard it right.

Maybe... just maybe... this experience will actually lead this man to Jesus when he realizes the futility of it all!

Gary Kirkham said...


I can't watch most of what passes for religious television programming. I know I shouldn't be critical, but it bothers me to see women made up like street walkers and men wearing thousand dollar suits asking you to send in your seed money so that God can bless you. Like you say, the Gospel suffers in the midst of all the "prosperity."


I kind of wonder how someone who wasn't brought up in the law can actually know what the law says about a particular situation in everyday life. I wonder if he carried a cue card around with him.


I kind of think that he didn't learn anything like that. To him it wasn't futile because I don't think that he was trying to do these things to be right with God, it was to give him material for a book. He was trying to fill his "hole" with works, but even then it wasn't with a view to God. At least that is my take.


Daelon said...

Hey Gary,

I'm the same way now. When I first started seeking God, I would watch 700 Club everyday. I watched any religious program I could. I slowly drifted out of it, until I finally came to pure gospel and I hate watching it all together. I agree..I never liked the suit and tie stuff, then asking for money. They may be doing good things with it, but I don't think it sends a good message.

And tithing, to me, has been made into some drive thru good works. If God isn't happy with you, just give Him a few hundred bucks and you'll be back on it will get you off the naughty list.

I'm not saying thats what people at 700 Club are doing, but I do believe that is the way I perceived charity before pure grace. It was my way to prove my sincerity and dedication to God or something.

I still love giving. But if it's a dead, religious work then I won't do it.

Aharon HaLevi said...

Too bad more people don't strive to keep the commandments of God. Those who don't are walking straight down the path of destruction - 1 John 3:4-6.

Joel Brueseke said...

Hehehe... Yeah I know that wasn't the man's purpose. :) I was really being sarcastic, but leaving open the possibility that a year's worth of trying to "do" the things of the Bible might maybe perhaps spark something in Him. I realize, however, that we already have plenty of that in this world, with no serious repentance from dead works. ;)

Gary Kirkham said...


I looked at your profile and found this bit:

If Jews come to Yeshua through their Torah observance - great. If not, they haven't found the true Moshiach...

I am curious by what you mean by "come to Yeshua?"