What Would Howard Hendricks Do?

It is a sin to bore a child with the Word of God.Howard Hendricks

As we were exploring that question we so want to know your answer to…

Will You Continue to Bore People With the Bible?

…Paula began to show us these insights, by that Howard Hendricks guy, who loudly proclaimed it is a sin to bore people with the Bible…

Unless they’re making their own discoveries on topics that related directly to their experience, Bible study will just bore them to tears. They won’t feel motivated to invest time in it. So that’s really your challenge as a teacher — to offer them a process by which they can uncover spiritual truths for themselves.

Living By The Book, Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks

Have you ever closed your Bible in frustration, wondering why you don’t get more out of your study of the Scripture? Wendy told us that was her experience in chapter 1. Perhaps like her you’ve made an honest effort somewhere along the way to sit down and study God’s Word. You heard others talk about mining the riches of Scripture, and you wanted to grab a few nuggets for yourself. But after pouring a lot of time and energy into the process, things just didn’t pan out. The few specks of gold you did find weren’t worth the trouble. So in the end, you walked away from Bible study. Maybe others were profiting by it, but not you. 

May I suggest two reasons you failed to hit pay dirt: First, you didn’t know how to read. Second, you didn’t know what to look for. 

Now I don’t mean to insult you, but I do mean to instruct you. Our culture has made a radical shift in the last century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The media of our time are movies, television, and the Internet, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of just a few generations ago, we don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we have lost that art. 

And yet the Bible is a book, which means it must be read to be understood and appreciated. We’ve got to recapture the skills of reading if we want to become effective Bible students. So in this and the next few chapters, I want to offer instruction on how to read. Then later I’ll talk about what you need to look for. 

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, what if your famous Bible teacher Howard Hendricks missed what your famous Bible Preacher Haddon Robinson also missed?

What if they both failed to see that, if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God is the Great Storyteller, who has given you the very kind of story which human beings – across both time and culture – deeply desire?

But Paula wonders what may have happened if Hendricks would have ever come to see the work of Robert McKee. Look what else she showed us…

Sherlock Holmes, the master sleuth, can sometimes be found on his hands and knees, inspecting the floor for cigar ashes or footprints. Other times he broods for hours, rolling things over and over in his mind, straining for answers. He assumes disguises, feigns sickness, conducts experiments whatever it takes to solve the mystery. 

In the same way, finding clues in the biblical text demands more than one approach. The Bible must be read to be understood. But there is more than one way to read it.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, what if Hendricks had been able to observe how the story in the Bible fits with the teaching of Robert McKee?

He would look into it, wouldn’t he? After all, look what he wrote about the greatest commandment…

Christianity has often been caricatured as the nonthinking man’s religion. 

But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. When you become a Christian, you don’t throw your brain into neutral. You don’t put your head in a bucket of water and fire a .45 into ‘it! You don’t commit intellectual suicide. 

So let me ask, Do you love the Lord with all of your mind? As we turn to the step of Interpretation, I can assure you that if you want to interpret Scripture accurately and perceptively, you’re going to have to use your mind. As I’ve said before, the Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy—and that includes the intellectually lazy. So get ready to exercise some mental muscle. 

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

That is why we think your famous Bible teacher — who proclaimed that it was a sin to bore people with the Bible — would have extensively explored the work of Robert McKee if he had ever come to observe it.

And look what else Paula showed us…

Make sure you zoom back out to recall the big picture. Remember, you don‘t want to end up with a lot of disconnected fragments but rather with a unified whole in which all the details fit in with the overall message of the book. 

Alter your approach. As we’re seeing, there is more than one way to study Scripture. The more strategies you use, the more insight you will gain. And the way to hang in there for the long haul of Bible study is to vary your approach, just as runners vary their pace.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

It is sad but true that the average person thinks that reading the Bible is dreadfully boring. In fact, the only thing more boring would be listening to someone teach from the Bible. Yet I’m convinced that the reason Scripture seems dull to so many people is that we come to it dully. How different things would be if we employed the sixth strategy for first-rate Bible reading: READ THE BIBLE IMAGINATIVELY


Often when we come to the Scriptures, we use the least imaginative, most overworked approaches possible.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

In addition to grammatical devices, the biblical writers communicate their purposes through literary structure. Even if you are inexperienced as a reader, you are probably familiar with literary structure. Film and television screenplays use the same ones over and over again. 

For instance, think how many mystery shows and action thrillers use this structure: (1) introduction of the characters and the setting; (2) committing of the crime, usually murder or robbery; (3) investigation by the protagonist. (4) evasion by the criminal(s); (5) crisis, such as a car chase or shoot-out; and (6) resolution, as when the perpetrators are led away in handcuffs and the protagonist gets the girl. That’s an all-too-common structure for screenplays. 

The Bible has literary structure, too, though it’s usually more sophisticated.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, had someone shown McKee’s work to Hendricks, Paula is wondering if the following would have kicked in to gear…

Remember the story of the great scientist Louis Agassiz and his method for teaching students to observe the fish? He left his students in front of their specimens for days and weeks, giving them only one instruction: “Look! 
Look! Look!” If I could give students of Scripture only one instruction, it would be the same: “Look! Look! Look!” The truth of God is in the Bible, but most people miss it primarily because they don’t look for it. They never put forth the time and effort required to answer the fundamental question of Observation, What do I see?

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

When Paula showed us that question, we were grateful to have studied Robert McKee. Because what we saw is that, if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God is the Great Storyteller.

And we now think Hendricks would have pursued the exploration of that possibility…

So the Bible is heavily composed of stories. That makes for interesting reading, but it also makes for interesting interpretation. What are we to make of the stories in the Bible? How do we determine their meaning and significance? 

“There is no method except to be very intelligent,” remarked T. S. Eliot.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

And since McKee is so intelligent, well, we wonder if Hendricks would have also begun to lead America’s Christians on an exodus out of the minimalist corner.

In fact, Paula thinks that because Hendricks wanted to think broadly, he may have connected the dots and come to see this…

MANY thousands of years ago, there were two important inventions, the wheel and the sack. As a traveler, I can’t help wondering why it took so long to put rollers on that sack to create wheeled luggage.

“It was one of my best ideas,” Bernard D. Sadow said the other day. Mr. Sadow, who was at that time a vice president  at a Massachusetts company that made luggage and coats, is credited with inventing rolling luggage 40 years ago this month.

First, the background. Mr. Sadow, now 85, had his eureka moment in 1970 as he lugged two heavy suitcases through an airport while returning from a family vacation in Aruba. Waiting at customs, he said, he observed a worker effortlessly rolling a heavy machine on a wheeled skid.

“I said to my wife, ‘You know, that’s what we need for luggage,’ ” Mr. Sadow recalled. When he got back to work, he took casters off a wardrobe trunk and mounted them on a big travel suitcase. “I put a strap on the front and pulled it, and it worked,” he said.

This invention, for which he holds United States patent No. 3,653,474, “Rolling Luggage,” did not take off immediately, though.

“People do not accept change well,” Mr. Sadow said, recalling the many months he spent rolling his prototype bag on sales calls to department stores in New York and elsewhere. Finally, though, Macy’s ordered some, and the market grew quickly as Macy’s ads began promoting “the Luggage That Glides.”

Reinventing the Suitcase by Adding the Wheel, by Joe Sharkey, New York Times, October 4, 2010

And you may also find this to be of particular interest…

The “Dawn-Mobile”, the first suitcase on wheels, was invented in 1908 by James Cole, a preacher for the Bible Students, to carry copies of the Bible commentary Millennial Dawn. Rolling suitcases were reinvented in 1970, when Bernard D. Sadow applied for a patent that was granted in 1972 as United States patent 3,653,474 for “Rolling Luggage”. The patent application cited the increase in air travel, and “baggage handling [having] become perhaps the single biggest difficulty encountered by an air passenger”, as background of the invention. Sadow’s four-wheeled suitcases, pulled using a loose strap, were later surpassed in popularity by rollaboards, suitcases that feature two wheels and are pulled in an upright position using a long handle, and were invented in 1987 by US pilot Robert Plath.

Baggage, Wikipedia

So, the first suitcase on wheels was invented to carry a Bible commentary!

Go figure. Sometimes the stuff is right there in front of you.

Step back and think about it. Sometimes there are two things of great value which nobody recognizes — which can also be combined together to bring even greater added value.

And Paula wonders if you Christians in America will open your eyes and see how you could take the luggage of Howard Hendrick’s inductive Bible study approach and put the wheels of Robert McKee’s insights about story onto that luggage.

And look what Paula showed us…

The typical business mode of thought is inductive logic. You gather evidence, in a Powerpoint presentation often, or in whatever you’re writing or explaining–but you gather. Point, point, point, point, point, point, point [to] one kind of data, another kind of data, and appeal to an authority data of some kind, and the conclusion –“therefore.” And this was taught to us since junior high school: To learn data, memorize data, put it into an essay that builds to a final paragraph that says “and therefore.”

Inductive logic is the mode of science, and scientific method is inductive logic. Science gathers evidence. Unlike business, scientists gather evidence of a massive kind, and then unlike business, they also gather all the contrary evidence in order to try to disprove the theory. But they gather evidence and they build an inductive argument too, and then “therefore.” That conclusion then becomes the premise of a deductive argument from which they draw out particulars: “all whatever a so and so” and then they draw it up.

How Screenwriting Guru Robert McKee Teaches Brands How To Tell Stories, By Robert McKee as Told To Drake Baer, Fast Company, October 22, 2013

And then she reminded us of this…

Story mirrors life. Story, in fact, mirrors the mind. There’s been a great enterprise, certainly by science of all kinds.Social sciences, but also neurology and others, trying to understand how the human mind works.

And the one grand idea that they’ve, understanding that they have achieved in the last decades, is that first and foremost, the mind organizes life as a story. This is how we put things together and understand things. When we think back, when we remember our life and try to make sense out of our life, how do we remember it, as a series of facts, as a deductive, inductive argument? Of course not. We take it and we create a little story for ourselves, a little inciting incident, in which things went out of balance for ourselves, the struggle we went through to restore the balance, how and why eventually the balance was restored or not. But we put the past together into a little story in order to understand ourselves and our own existence.

Story is a model of expectation, of anticipation, of planning for the future. When you think toward the future toward what you hope will happen or you dread might happen, how do you try and prepare yourself for life? You imagined a little story for yourself, a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and end. A hypothetical story that somehow then prepares you for life.

That is just what we do each and every day in order to organize our own lives.

Legendary Writing Teacher Robert McKee at Thinking Digital

So, if they put those wheels on luggage, it looks like McKee’s insights about story would help solve your crazy love crisis

And that may be the number-one reason people are not studying God’s Word today. They think it’s archaic, out-of-date. It may have had something to say to another generation, but there’s a serious question whether it has anything to say to ours.

Living By The Book, Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks

But, Hendricks is gone. So, we want to know — will you make the exploration?

Like we keep saying, we really want to know what you want.