After months of furtive conversations with strangers in between unilluminated musty bookshelves at the back of second-hand antique shops, hours spent searching through the darkest realms of the internet hoping for some new information, and years of savings ploughed into what should have been a lost cause, I finally got hold of it; the holy grail of youth work blogging research.
Alright, so I asked for it in my Facebook status and I got a couple of responses in the next hour, but still, who cares how I got hold of it, the important thing is that I got hold of it.
What’s so magical about this Bible? If you either weren’t a youth worker or a church going teenager during the 90’s you may never have seen it, but if you were, you’ve seen it and you fear it’s return. This is a bible that while seemingly quite normal –inside its pages there contains not only the very words of God, but also helpful footnotes and pop-out boxes explaining certain things– it also contains things called “Life Notes”. These pop-out boxes tell the story of someone inevitably called John or Hannah, as they decide to do something that might vaguely relate to the passage at hand. These stories are inevitably riveting and exciting, often far more so than the talk, bible study, or prayer time currently going on. And once one story is over, the next is only a short few page turns away. You can read through all of Jeremiah in the space of a ten minute sermon if you don’t actually read Jeremiah. For this reason alone; they’re dreadful dreadful things
But actually, reading back through them. they’re not as weak content-wise as perhaps memory told me. Okay, some of them are, and some of them are even worse, but some are even quite good. Here’s an example of a reasonably bad one (see the photo above). Taking the simplest possible application from the passage, with no reference to wider salvation history or Christ, it slaps the application down on badly imagined real world situation, and barely skirts just plain moralising (kids! don’t get impatient! That’s bad!). If it wasn’t for the “consider actively trusting in God next time…” at the bottom of the box it’d be no different from Islam1, and even so, it’s barely…
Oh, and also fact fans; Steve Chalke’s face appears on the back cover. That’s right, Steve Chalke is on the “about the author” part of the bible!
1 Here’s a good test I stole from someone I can’t remember (possibly Mike Reeves in a podcast) to see if you’re a teaching the Old Testament in a moralistic legalistic way. If what you’re teaching could be taught in a synagogue with out an eye-lid being batted, you’re teaching wrong.