The 100-Minute Bible

By revkev

I got into a discussion yesterday with an acquaintance regarding the recent publication of The 100-Minute Bible. This is the fruit of one man’s efforts to trim down the Bible to about 1 hour and 40 minutes worth of reading. I’ve not seen this work yet. I’ve only read release articles and reviews/comments from others.

The discussion was primarily focused upon the “usefulness” of such a tool to reach out to those who would “never” read the Bible on their own. Conversation turned a bit heated when one piped up and accused me of simply needing to have all my correct theological boxes ticked in order to be appeased. I wasn’t looking to have all my boxes of theological correctness ticked. And, while the 100-minute Bible may be “a gate” to some to read the Bible, one of my concerns is that mostly church-goers will pick it up and hope they can settle in for this version instead of taking the time to dig a bit deeper.

Not having seen a copy of this condensed version of Holy Writ, I can’t make any comments about it specifically. I would want to know: who were the editors, what portions did they leave in (and why) and what portions did they leave out (and why). My initial digging (about 5 minutes worth of time through Google) turns up that the bulk are selected stories about the life of Jesus. Fine as it stands if the person reading knows absolutely nothing about who Jesus is. Maybe that works better in England where Jesus is more a swear word than anything else, I don’t know (forgive me, all my English brothers/sisters). But here in America, Jesus is still recognized for who He is at the center of Christianity. And people all over this country can profess to “know” Jesus and to believe “Jesus”. But if, in this encapsulated presentation, significant portions of Romans or Galatians or Ephesians or 1 John are left out, then the full gospel is not getting presented.

I’ll hold off further comments until I see more of this publication. I fear that many will consider this to be enough, unless pursued by those who give this book to them. Personally, my sinful nature tells me I would love a 100-minute Christianity. It would be so much easier, so much more trouble-free and hassle-free without all those commands and requirements. But Jesus Himself tells each one to “count the cost” of following him (was this part included in the 100-minute Bible?). Taking up the cross surely involves more than this and it’s my understanding that even the unbelieving one is to take this into consideration.

The argument from the “opposing side” took the turn toward “Well, non-christians simply aren’t going to read the whole Bible, so why not just give them a portion of it? It’s better than nothing or than them reading The DaVinci Code.” I realize that in this “choice” my critique-er was merely citing examples, not leaving these as the only three choices remaining to an unbeliever. At least, I hope this is what he intended. If not, then I fear he had become needlessly reductionistic in the opposite direction. I’m not sure where one gets the idea they have to read the entire Bible for it to count (at least in this sense, the publishers of the 100-minute Bible got it right). The Gideons International (www.gideons.org) could provide you countless examples of men & women all over the world who have only read a portion of Scripture and come to Christ as the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and regeneration to them. But I at least give great credit to the Gideons in giving out the Scriptures, in many cases, simply the New Testament.

Another turn in the road of this discussion came with the “weight of the Engels Scale.” Well, I’m not familiar with the Engels Scale so I can’t really comment. But, given the context (now there’s an important word in this dialog: “context” – I’d like to see what the editors do with context in this publication), I’m assuming it’s a study/scale done to show how certain “in-roads” are made by offering smaller hurdles or barriers to the main goal/object. Forgive me if I’m wrong in that assumption. Again, however, it seems like some have made this an all or nothing consideration: “You must read the whole Bible or nothing at all! This 100-Minute thingy just won’t cut it here!” I already stated, this simply isn’t the case.

Near the end, the dialogue went the route of “lifestyle evangelism.” “Being who we are and living the life is the most powerful witness of all” is the banner that flies over this “paper fortress.” Those of us who are reserving praise or even daring to criticize this release are accused of being hastily judgmental. I mean, really, who are we to judge? (Problem here with this attitude is that the ones resorting to this accusation fail to think through what Scripture means when it tells us not to judge others. Scripture is not telling us to throw discernment out the window; it’s telling us that we cannot judge a person’s heart – only God can do that. But when it comes to many external matters, we are to judge… use discernment.) I, for one, am all for living the life, but I must take Biblical exception that it’s the most powerful witness of all. I would like to see biblical references for this.

On the “most powerful” side of things, I think Paul tells us where the power is: Rom. 1.16 — For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [Paul doesn’t add anything here about our personal testimony or life’s example, although I think he would say that supplements the gospel if it’s a positive example and a detriment if negative] Rom. 10.13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” Rom. 10.14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Rom. 10.16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

It is very clear here that faith, if & when it comes to each unbeliever will come as the Gospel is declared from the Word of God. My biggest concern with the “lifestyle evangelism” of today is that in most areas of, at least America, it’s not working because we think that our actions will be enough when God Himself tells us that the gospel must be preached/told. The church in this country (I can’t speak for England; I’ll let the English brothers/sisters speak up here) has failed miserably at this and I think it is in large part, due to our willy-nilly pursuit of the pragmatic over the holy, the methodology over the message. We think if we “dumb it down enough” then people will come flooding through our church doors. Jesus spoke as plainly as anyone could ever have spoken about the gospel… to multitudes… and not that many followed. It really is in the hands of God’s free sovereign grace.

Anyway, I apologize for this lengthy “rant” but I wanted to be clear on thoughts/opinions/facts… at least the ones I put out there in cyber-space.

By His Grace For His Glory,

Kevin Pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church Rochester, MN

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