An Orthodox rabbi and a Methodist pastor have made a joint New Year’s Resolution for 2019.
No, this is not the opening line of a bad joke. We have committed to read from the same book for 365 consecutive days, and we are inviting you to join our “book club” in the new year. That book is the Hebrew Bible.
This time of year, many people resolve to lose weight or to exercise more. We feel that Jews and Christians should focus together on nourishing our souls by making a commitment to read from the book we both have cherished for ages.
As 2018 winds down, there are numerous signs of unrest on the horizon. For example, since America announced it will withdraw its troops from Syria, there is fear that the door will open for more terrorists to increase their presence in the Middle East. In the US and Israel, stock markets are down. In the US, analysts are predicting a recession. And political unrest is sweeping across Europe.
Thanks to new gadgets and evolving technology, society is changing faster than ever and leaving traditional values in the dust. Popular culture is being shaped by a new generation that rejects its foundations. This past April, the editors of GQ magazine published a list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.” Not surprisingly, the Bible is on their list.
Here’s their unflattering assessment:
“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
While GQ’s dismissal of the Bible as “foolish” might be particularly brazen, we know that it’s not just the younger and less-affiliated who are moving away from the Scriptures. Each successive generation of Americans is more biblically illiterate.
Gallup polls have found that professed Christians score only slightly higher in biblical literacy than those with no religion. Even among committed Jews and Christians, the Bible has become our favorite unopened book.
We cannot sit by as the Book that has inspired billions over centuries becomes less relevant. As Jews and Christians begin to reverse centuries of hostility and build relationships, we feel that a joint call for daily Bible study is essential for our generation.
According to the Journal Management Review, the most effective New Year’s resolutions are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.).
Our international call to read the Book in 2019 meets all five of these criteria.
Therefore, we invite Jews and Christians to start the New Year on the right foot by taking the S.M.A.R.T. approach and calling for 2019 to be the “Year of the Book” – the year of the Bible.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of Israel365 and editor of ‘The Israel Bible.’ Pastor Keith Johnson is an author, international speaker, and the founder of Biblical Foundations Academy International.