Southern Seminary graduate compiles Bible reading plan paired with Hamilton text
As the new year approaches, many Christians are thinking about their next attempt at reading through the Bible. The Bible reading plans to choose from are numerous, but some people find certain plans difficult to continue once they reach the dense texts of Leviticus and Numbers.
Chris Dendy, a December D.Min. graduate in Applied Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a suggestion to help believers stick with their Bible reading commitments.
As part of the ministry project required for his degree, Dendy designed a reading plan to go alongside James M. Hamilton Jr.’s book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. Hamilton, professor of biblical theology, also serves as Dendy’s adviser.
“The goal of the plan is to graciously push believers to grow in their understanding of the Scriptures and to give them a plan that will stretch them,” Dendy said.
When Hamilton released the work on biblical theology in 2010, he wrote that he hoped his book would be a “guided tour” for believers toward reading the Bible better, even urging readers to read the two books together.
“This book is best read with an open Bible,” he wrote. “So I encourage you to read this book alongside the Bible, and if you have time for only one and not the other, read the Bible.”
In a Dec. 3 post to his blog, “For His Renown,” Hamilton unveiled the “God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment Bible Reading Plan.” Daily readings are composed of several pages from Hamilton’s book which correspond with the two to three chapters from the listed biblical text, allowing readers to work through both books during a calendar year.
Hamilton says he hopes the plan will help readers identify a central theme to biblical revelation that will orient their daily reading and make their exposure to the Bible more fruitful. A major theme in Hamilton’s book, a “thematic center” can help each believer appreciate the artistry and complexity of Scripture’s storyline while grasping the primary message of the whole counsel of God, he said.
“The thematic center shows us that every single biblical author agreed on God's own ultimate purpose: to maximize our experience of what is best for us — his glory,” he said.
Dendy, who also serves as minister of discipleship and college ministry at Rich Pond Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, said it is the first reading plan he knows of that is paired with a substantial and accessible theology book, and he hopes the plan will stretch people in the local church to understand the Bible better.
“The Scriptures are where God reveals himself, not in God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment,” Dendy said. “The readings in [Hamilton’s book] serve as a tour to God’s revelation of himself.”
Dendy suggests believers starting the plan also cultivate a healthy outlook on the role of solitude and community in their spiritual lives. Personal Bible reading helps the believer focus on the details of the text, while discussing the text in community “sharpens our thoughts and fuels our affections,” he said.
With many Christians eager to piece together individual parts of the Bible through biblical theology and typology, Hamilton said the best way to observe intertextual connections across the canon is simply to read the Bible tirelessly.
“Know the Bible thoroughly, so that when you step back to take a broad angle look at it, the details are stored there in your memory bank to be retrieved and examined,” he said. “Read the Bible a lot. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Rinse and repeat.”
Hamilton recommends that readers do the plan first thing in the morning, before doing anything else. The plan is rendered in both a digital format and a print format. The printable version can be folded into a booklet and includes a page for notes. Lindsey Jacobs, an artist from Dendy’s church, designed both formats.