Why I Changed My View on Bible-Reading Plans

Posted on March 15, 2021


By David Ettinger

Christian Disgrace
I remember a discussion I had with the pastor of the reformed-theology church I attend, Emmaus Church. When I first saw the name, I knew exactly what “Emmaus” referred to. I figured most Christians would. I was mistaken.

Having lunch with Pastor David, he expressed that one of his frustrations was the number of Christians – including those in the congregation – who would ask him, “What is Emmaus?”

This irked me as much as it did him. We both agreed that the vast majority of Christians do not read their entire Bibles. We also agreed that even if they read nothing else, most, at least, read the 4 Gospels. The Emmaus Road account is found in the Gospel of Luke.

And I thought it was just Baptists who didn’t read their Bibles! Nope, it is reform-theologists as well. Sadly, the failure to read our Bibles consistently is the biggest disgrace of 21 century Christianity. If we truly believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word and primary communication to us, then why aren’t we reading it? ALL 66 BOOKS.

Book by Book
All Christians SHOULD be reading all 66 books of the Bible. They may do so at their own pace, but all are to be read. If God had only wanted 20 books to be read, He would have given us 20.

I also believe that – unlike most books – the Bible doesn’t have to be read in order. The nature of the Bible allows for readers to skip around, book by book.

Yes, book by book. I don’t believe reading Genesis must be followed by reading Exodus, nor reading Matthew must be followed by reading Mark. However, I do believe Bible books should be read in their entirety before beginning the next.

Leviticus is difficult, but to get what it is about, one should stick with it from Chapter 1, verse 1, through Chapter 27, verse 34. It’s tough, but the reader will have a better idea of what the book’s about. As a reward for conquering Leviticus, the believer can next read the “easy” Philemon.

But reading a small section of Leviticus, followed by a couple of Psalms, followed by a snippet of Matthew, then a peck of Ephesians seems rather scattered and counter-productive.

A Change of View
This, in general, is what Bible-reading plans do. They try to make Bible reading easier by structuring it into digestible bites. And though I appreciate the thought that goes into putting together these plans, I don’t like that the readings focus on “pieces” of books. I mean, can you really know what Habakkuk and Nahum are about if you are breaking them up into 4 sections?

This is why for many years I have been critical of Bible-reading plans. However, I now view them much more favorably. The reason has to do with the earlier-stated “Christian disgrace” – believers either not reading their Bibles at all, or just a fraction of them.

By contrast, Bible-reading plans encourage Christians to read their ENTIRE Bibles. Authors of these plans comprehend that all 66 books of the Bible are intended to be read, and attempt to make it possible.

So, though I don’t like the way individual books of the Bible are meshed together, at least Bible-reading plans get Christians into ALL 66 books. And let’s face it, without such plans, most Christians wouldn’t go anywhere near Habakkuk and Nahum.

So, carry on Bible-reading plans. I heartily support your desire for biblical literacy among Christians. And for that, you’ve certainly earned this skeptic’s respect and change of heart!