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Candor from Exile

Most Bible study books are written for people who want to study the Bible.

This Bible study book is written for people who are tired of studying the Bible.

Why? Because I have had to unlearn loads of foundational material and study the actual text of the Bible, rather than the haze of church culture, to experience Christianity that meant anything.

I was co-valedictorian of Faulkner University in 2006, a Church of Christ-affiliated university, at age 20.  I preached in front of 600 people; I led devotionals for senior citizens.  I was one of the most church-culture-approved fellas you could find.

I went to law school.  I got married.  I wasn’t ready for either one.  My life fell apart – emotions, grades, health, everything really – and it took over a decade before I arguably regained functionality.  What I learned in between is that loads of what I was taught in the church was flat wrong.  It enforced and reinforced the prevailing church culture and made it easier for everyone to go along and get along, but it had no basis in Scripture.  The more I replaced, the better I felt and the more I understood how Christianity could be something positive instead of an albatross.

Meanwhile, I became an expert in interpreting texts.  As of writing this, I’m the Seattle Code Reviser; Chapter 1.03 of the Seattle Municipal Code is a law I wrote giving me special powers.  I’ve advised municipalities in 11 states on how to write better laws that actually work, and I’ve helped draft hundreds of ordinances.  My day job is textual interpretation, often difficult textual interpretation.  I know exactly how to be a legalist if I want.

But the Bible isn’t written like that, and my deep professional experience has helped me sort out the difference.  So I want to help you get rid of any rot in your foundation and get something more solid under you.

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Many people have left the church over the years – young, old, sharp, confused.  They might have contributed a lot over the years, but life beats them down, and they shrink and slink away.  And many, many Christians arrogantly watch this and assume they wanted to quit, that they were googly-eyed at the world.  It’s reductionist, it’s insulting, and it doesn’t match my experience.  I’ve known far more who leave because what’s presented to them is too hard to follow, because it doesn’t make sense, and because the doctrinal pieces can’t form a livable standard.  They can sense inconsistency, but they’re too muddled and addled to know how to solve it.  They’ve been given bad theology for years, so they don’t have a lead on finding good theology.  The task is daunting; they give up.

If this describes you, I’m writing especially for you.  I’ve had a long, tiring journey, and I want to help you find the truth.  So I’m going to retell you a lot of things with passages you might have read, but using the fuller passage and my sizable experience interpreting complicated texts instead of trotting out standard arguments.  And here’s the deal I’ll make with you, the reader, to save this from being a standard book:

No one read this book before I published it.

Not my family, not preachers – nobody.  This is just me talking to you, with no sanitizing.  If someone is offended when they read this, then so be it.  I’m stepping out on the best Bible reading I know how to do, and if that is also on someone’s toes…they’ve got an army of people to comfort them as they tune me out and get mad or whatever they will do.

I don’t care what they will do.  I care about you, more than you could possibly know.  I’m laying out everything I can think of to help you find joy in God, possibly for the first time.  I’m not trying to be the liberal to anyone’s conservative; I’m not trying to take a side in any direction.  I’m checking “none of the above” so I can start over.  If you want to start over, join me. I’ll start by addressing some common problems in Bible reading and interpretation, illustrated with what I hope are digestible examples, and then I’ll go through whatever in the Bible interests me.  I don’t want this to read like a traditional Bible study book; there are approximately 13,851,294 of those and you’re probably not reading them.  You don’t need a commentary saying, “yep, those chronicles sure have numbers in them.”  I want this to read like me talking straight to you like I would in person, whether or not I’m 100% right, with everybody else miles away from our thinking.  Sound good? Then read or download the book below.

I’m also earthdyedred at gmail if you want to reach out.