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Glenn Paauw: Pulling Back Bible Tradition in the Modern Era to Uncover God’s Intention for the Scriptures

Glenn Paauw

Glenn Paauw has worked in Bible ministry for 28 years publishing, researching, speaking and writing on the topic of reading and living the Bible well. He led the development of the revolutionary The Books of the Bible format that uncovers the natural literary form of the Scriptures, which served as the foundational piece of the Community Bible Experience church program. Glenn is the author of Saving the Bible from Ourselves (2016) and currently lives in Colorado Springs, CO.

Key Questions:

The Bible continues to be the best-selling book year after year, and our access to it has increased exponentially, so why do we seem to have such a hard time understanding and applying Scripture to our lives?

How have we over-complicated the Bible in the modern era?

What kind of stories have we super-imposed over Scripture? Where did these stories come from?

Key Quotes (Glenn):

“God gave us the Scriptures for a reason. He seemed to think that the Scriptures are supposed to be a part of his mission to the world. And if we’re not fully receiving, accepting, benefitting from the gift of the Scriptures, then God’s mission is not all that he wants it to be.”

“The Scriptures are meant to play a vital role, and if we don’t receive those Scriptures and know them so that their work can be done in our lives, then we’re living sub-par Christian lives—not fully flourishing Christian lives.”

“I’m really trying to undo—if you will, completely, audaciously, perhaps ridiculously—500 years-worth of Bible tradition and paradigm, which we need to distinguish from the Bible itself.”

“The Bible is not this thing that’s been delivered to us in the modern era. The Bible lies underneath and behind that. And the part that’s inspired—the place where God’s Spirit works, that’s what we want to get to—not necessarily all the stuff we’ve added in the modern time.”

“We’ve created a complicated Bible…visually complicated.”

“When we complicated the form of the Bible…naturally what people started to do with such a Bible—rather than read it at length and in depth, taking in the whole letter—we started snacking on the Bible.”

“Matthew, for instance, doesn’t have 28 natural chapters, it has five books. Five times Jesus repeats this phrase…he’s presenting, in essence, a new Torah, a new Pentateuch. There’s the five books of Jesus, who’s fulfilling the role of a new Moses, bringing the new Exodus.”

“In book after book, when you take out the artificial placement of the chapter numbers, you find that there’s a natural structure there which is actually part of the message of the book. And this happens all over the place in the Bible, and we’ve never seen it because we’ve had an artificial structure over the book. So there’s a whole Bible waiting to be rediscovered.”

“Reading those verses in their full context, we start to understand that the Bible is also a very human book.”

“The first step is: What kind of writing is this? And then: What kind of world was this written to? And then we can start to have the conversation: What does that say to us today?”

“I think what the Bible wants from us, more than anything, is to invite us into its story. To realize that the story of the Scriptures didn’t end at the end of the New Testament. That the story of the Scriptures actually continues….we are living that same story of restoration in Christ, and what we have to do is figure out: What does that story look like in our world?”

“Jesus is the clearest revelation of what God’s intentions for the world are.”

“The story of the Bible is moving toward greater and greater light.”

“This other story that we’ve been telling—that the Bible is just about getting things right so that you can go to heaven when you die—that is not a good telling of the Scriptural story when you really read the text of the Scriptures.”

“What we’ve lost in the modern era is any kind of regular, sustained, community experiences around the text.”

“I think there’s a calling in a church to have lectors—people who can read Scripture well, with meaning and with force and with the right kind of emotion for that particular passage. That in itself can make Scripture come alive for people, and we’ve neglected this part of the Bible. The stories themselves use literary devices and we need to learn those things.”

Mentioned in the Show:

Institute for Bible Reading

Saving the Bible from Ourselves


Outreach Magazine

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Jason serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at PastorServe, a ministry committed to strengthening the Church by serving pastors through personal coaching and church consulting. He also hosts FrontStage BackStage, a podcast and YouTube show, that helps pastors embrace healthy, well-balanced leadership as they develop a sustainable rhythm for life and ministry. Prior to joining the PastorServe team, Jason served as Vice President of Ministry Mobilization at Outreach, Inc., and as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement. Additionally, Jason served for nearly two decades in pastoral leadership, primarily as a lead pastor, in several contexts, including church plant re-launch, multisite church, multiethnic urban church, and an established suburban church. His experience as a lead pastor has provided numerous opportunities to coach and mentor pastors across the country. Jason and his beautiful wife, Monica, are the proud parents of six children and live on Anastasia Island, Florida. @jasondaye