Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with a dear friend from seminary days, who reminded me of a conversation that remained clearer in his mind than it had in mine. Occasionally some of us seminarians would visit the home of Dr. Cornelius Van Til, the great theologian and apologist, then retired, in his upper 80s, and not entirely lucid. He delighted to give us copies of his many books, which he signed with his own shaky hand. We would provoke him to tell stories from the past, which were still fresh in his mind, like the time he met Karl Barth (whose works Van Til had devoured and criticized sharply in some of his writings). We also waited for pearls of great theological insight or counsel for aspiring pastors. He was content to give us one brilliant piece of advice: “Read your Bibles, boys.”
As we end one year and begin another, we face a good time to recover or start good habits, like Bible reading. There are many excellent programs out there to guide us, but I particularly like the plans on bible.com and its corresponding YouVersion Bible mobile app , especially the following:
Discipleship Journal’s 5x5x5 Reading Plan, which covers the New Testament in one year at the pace of one chapter per day with weekends to catch up.
Old Testament, which covers the Old Testament in one year at the pace of three chapters per day from three different books of the Bible.
M’Cheyne One Year Reading Plan, which covers the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice at the pace of four chapters per day from four different books of the Bible. One can read all four privately or two chapters in private and two chapters as a family.
There are many other plans at the website, of shorter or longer duration, all available for mobile devices, and some Bible versions with audio components to enable one to listen instead of reading. I sometimes choose to listen on a commute or simply for variety’s sake. Whatever else you do this new year, please remember Dr. Van Til’s tremendous advice. Read your Bibles, girls and boys.