T4L: Dr. Josh Moody, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview with Theology for Life Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself, including the current ministries you are involved in!
Dr. Moody: Thank you very much for interviewing me. I do hope that this conversation encourages you and the readers.
I serve as the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and also as the president of God Centered Life Ministries (GCL). College Church is a historic Bible-teaching church that was founded in 1860 by Jonathan Blanchard, the same man who founded the nearby Wheaton College, but it is not affiliated institutionally with the College.
It is a church of about 2,000 or so adults in regular attendance, along with dynamic ministries to children, youth and college students. GCL began as a website that I launched in coordination with the book, The God Centered Life, and it has since become a standalone 501c3 ministry. Its vision is all generations living for God. GCL has a daily podcast program of my preaching. It is also on daily broadcast on Moody Radio, plus some other radio stations across the country. We have a heart to get God’s word as far and wide as possible, trusting God to use his word to save and build his church.
T4L: Can you please tell us a bit about your book, How the Bible Can Change Your Life: Answers to the Ten Most Common Questions About the Bible, why you wrote it, and how you hope it is received?
Dr. Moody: I wrote the book because I want people to understand that the Bible is important for both personal and church use. I’ve noticed that Christians tend to read the Bible less. And I’ve also noticed that churches tend to make less use of the Bible.
There are many reasons for that—historical, cultural, and theological—but I want to reverse that trend. I want to show that the Bible is essential for our lives and health as Christians and the Church. I want to show how you can use the Bible and still be effective in reaching out to non-Christians—that, in fact, you will be more effective in reaching out to non-Christians if you use the Bible!
T4L: Why is it so important that Christians ask good questions of the biblical text with a foundation of sound biblical convictions?
Dr. Moody: I think of the Bible as food. I don’t know whether I always have good questions, the right approach, or convictions about food, but I know it is better that I eat than that I don’t eat at all!
I am happy when people read and study the Bible. It is better to have sound convictions first, but if you don’t, then those convictions will develop as you are open to what God is saying. You want to leave to one side your framework—your assumptions and presumptions—and come ready to have your mind and heart brought back into line with God and His will.
T4L: Excellent point. Many people today chafe when the word “authority” is mentioned. How can Christians begin to place themselves under the Word, not just on Sundays, but connect Sunday to Saturday (and every day in-between) to the Word of God?
Dr. Moody: The word “authority” derives from the word “author”, and it is connected to the word “authentic”. If we want to be authentic Christians, we must be those who abide by the Author of our faith, and that means submitting to the authority of His Word.
T4L: I agree—authentic Christianity is essential to our witness, and thus imperative. In your book, you discuss the relevancy of the Scriptures and chronological snobbery, as used by C.S. Lewis. That’s an important point! Why is it so important that we understand that the Bible is not merely a historical document but the living Word of God?
Dr. Moody: I’ve always liked Martin Luther’s comment that he thought of the Bible as having hands and feet. “It has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” You wrestle with the Bible, and it wrestles with you. There is something living about the Bible. Of course, at one level, reading it is just like reading any other book. It is a work of history. There is a historical context to it. There are human authors and different genres or styles of writing. But at another level, we believe that every word is breathed out by God. This is no ordinary book. The best way to discover that is to read it.
Perhaps the most ironic part of this book that I’ve written about The Book is that the answer to the assumed question of the title (How the Bible Can Change your Life) is really “read the Bible”! The best way for the Bible to change your life is for you to read—with faith—the Bible! But I hope my book about The Book will help you to read the Bible, and so have your life changed for God’s glory.
T4L: What are some strategies to help Christians to begin to see their need to read the Bible? And how would you advise them to begin to read the Scriptures daily?
Dr. Moody: I would say simply start, if you have not already. Start small, if necessary. Aim to be regular rather than impressive. Better frequent, regular, and often, than infrequent or very occasional (if lengthy) Bible reading.
Reading the Bible for an hour and a half one day and then not reading it for a week is not as good as reading the Bible five minutes each day. Think of it as eating: little and often is better than a feast once a week. There are various tools and methods that I discuss in the book about how to read the Bible too.
T4L: How can we help people begin to see that the Christian faith is not opposed to intellectual rigor, and help Christians begin to think in biblical categories and from a biblical worldview?
Dr. Moody: The first part of the question—helping non-Christians see that the Christian faith is not opposed to intellectual rigor—must be given a very large answer. It is, in many ways, the question of our secular age. The reason why people don’t go to church is not usually because they do not like the coffee. It is because they do not think it is true. The answer to that is to build into our ministries, at every level, intellectual rigor that is also relevant to the real issues of our day.
To the second part of the question—helping Christians think from a biblical worldview—the answer is to teach and preach the Bible in churches. Not just from the pulpit, but in youth groups, and small groups as well.
T4L: Yes, exactly. Preaching the Bible from the pulpit is important; but as you pointed out, it’s just as important to preach it in every level of the church! How can church leaders and pastors begin to use the Scriptures effectively in the church?
Dr. Moody: There are various courses that church leaders and pastors can attend to help them grow and develop as Bible teachers and preachers. Training Leaders International is one such resource. Another is The Charles Simeon Trust. Additionally, so is Leadership Resources International. If you are a young pastor or someone wanting to be a pastor, I would say listen to someone who teaches the Bible effectively, and seek to learn from him and others like him. You want to develop a sense, a taste, and instinct, for what biblical preaching is by exposure to good models in your own life.
T4L: Wonderful advice! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview, Dr. Moody.
Dr. Moody: You are welcome! Many blessings.