Quick: Where is Christ prophesied in the book of Numbers? What problem was Moses addressing when he wrote Leviticus? What do the dietary laws have to do with Jesus?
If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not alone. Though in 2015 we have greater access to Scripture than at any other time in history, we seem to know less about it than ever. And that’s probably putting it mildly.
A joint report last year by Barna and the American Bible Society found 81 percent of American adults consider themselves “highly,” “moderately,” or “somewhat” knowledgeable about the Bible. But less than half could name its first five books, and just as many respondents thought John the Baptist was a disciple.
Americans “consider the Bible to be important in a general sort of way,” said Kenneth Berding, a professor of New Testament at Biola University. But that rarely translates into actually studying or understanding it. For many, the Bible is a decoration on the mantelpiece, seldom dusted off or given more than a passing glance. And the reason that we, despite identifying as a majority Christian nation, are biblically illiterate really boils down to this: We just don’t read it.
And that’s perilous. As Berding puts it, by turning our noses up at the feast of God’s Word, “we’re starving ourselves to death.” And Jesus’ own example shows that immersing our minds in Scripture is an indispensable part of what it means to follow Him.
This problem is what inspired one team of artistic Christians to reintroduce audiences to the Bible in a fresh new way. Tim Mackie, a PhD in Semitic languages who pastors Door of Hope Church in Portland, Oregon, partnered with communications entrepreneur Jonathan Collins to bring Scripture to life on YouTube. They’re not making a miniseries. They’re teaching a crash course - helping all of those who have never read (or at least never understood) the Good Book.
“We believe the Bible is a profound and very beautiful book that’s telling one complete story from beginning to end,” explained Mackie. “But it’s also a very long book. And that means it’s just confusing and often intimidating...”
So working with top-notch artists, these guys have started producing short, sketchbook-style animated videos explaining the Bible one section at a time. They’re calling it, appropriately, “The Bible Project,” and let me tell you: having this on YouTube makes up for all those terrible cat videos ever made.
Take their intro to the book of Numbers, for example. To many Christians, this book is like the crazy uncle of the Old Testament. But that’s not how Mackie and Collins see it. They explain how Numbers is “an epic travel log of Israel’s journey through the wilderness,” filled with staggering pictures of Christ, like the bronze serpent and Balaam’s prophecy of a star and scepter from Jacob. Their video clearly exposes where Jesus is found in this often neglected, early chapter of redemptive history. And that’s what’s so powerful about The Bible Project: it vividly depicts for those unfamiliar with Scripture how the whole story is about Christ.
The team has a long way to go, but their videos covering the first five books as well as Romans, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, and the Gospel of Matthew are outstanding. And their topical videos are even better. Zeroing in on biblical themes like holiness, heaven and earth, covenants, and—my favorite—the Messiah, The Bible Project paints sweeping, beautifully-animated pictures of what’s happening in Scripture from cover to cover. You’ll be amazed at what you, your family, and maybe some of your unchurched friends could learn in just a few minutes on their channel, which I’ll link you to when you come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary.
I hope The Bible Project inspires a new generation to head to the mantelpiece and dust off the inspired Word.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: August 25, 2015