Is there a way to strengthen your spiritual core in a similar manner to exercising your physical core which results in a strong and stable midsection, better balance, improved posture, and reduction in back pain? Can a few minutes a day tactically reading the Bible help you master the core of Scripture?
Bible Gateway interviewed Mark E. Moore (@markmoore330) about his book, Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year (WaterBrook, 2019).
You begin your book by reporting the conclusions of an extensive independent research study about the benefits of engaging with the Bible. Share those results here.
Dr. Mark E. Moore: This was one of the most important studies ever done and it confirms what most pastors instinctively know: Knowing the Bible better makes people better. Those who engage with God’s Word four times a week or more experienced 62% less drunkenness, 59% less use of pornography, 59% less sexual sin, and gambled 45% less. This is not merely guilt manipulation. Bible engaged people have better self-perceptions which results in healthier relationships. They report 40% less bitterness, 32% fewer destructive thoughts, 32% less isolation, 30% less loneliness, and an increased ability to forgive by 31%. Bible engagement is the single greatest predictor of spiritual growth.
What keeps people from reading the Bible?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: There are two main barriers to Bible engagement:
- It’s a big book so people don’t know where to start.
- It’s a foreign book (written long ago to a different culture) so people easily get lost along the way.
How many people do you know who have on their bucket list to read through the Bible? How many have actually accomplished it? The gap between those two is the purpose of Core 52. We’ve removed both barriers by showing people the most important passages and how they connect to the larger story. Think of it as a guide you might hire in a foreign country to help you bypass the mass of confusion to get you quickly to where you want to go.
What messages are you conveying with the title Core 52 and the phrase in the subtitle Your Bible IQ?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: It kind of sounds like an exercise plan, doesn’t it? That’s deliberate. We want people to know we are providing a year-long fitness program. More than that, we want people to realize we are giving them a fast-pass to passages with the highest ROI. People have limited time. That’s just the reality. With that limited time, we want individuals to go further faster in the single greatest discipline for spiritual growth—knowing God’s Word. “Bible IQ” is our shorthand for “biblical worldview”—a different way of thinking that leads to a higher level of living.
Why is it important for a person to approach the Bible from the perspective of training, rather than sporadically and randomly reading verses and passages?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: Well, the Bible is not a book of magic incantations. A lot of Christians view the Bible like an amulet that will ward off demons. It’s not owning the Bible that offers benefit, we all know that. It’s not even reading it that offers protection. It’s wielding it. In Ephesians 6 Paul lists the spiritual armament of the Christian. The sword of the Spirit, he says, is “the word of God.” The word for “word” is not logos—the written Scripture. It’s, rather, rhema—the spoken word. Our only offensive spiritual weapon is not the reading of God’s Word but the ability to speak it, to articulate it, to wield it in the heat of battle. If we’re to play offense spiritually, we simply must train our people to know the truths of God’s Word enough that they can speak it and apply it to specific real-world challenges they face.
How is your book organized?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: There are 52 chapters, one for each week of the year. Each chapter is only six pages. So if you get the audio book, you could easily listen to it in a 15-minute commute. The power of Core 52, however, is not merely in reading but the daily exercises clearly laid out in each chapter. Think of it as a fitness program for your spiritual health that blends reading, meditation, memorization, and application. We’ve designed it as a turn-key discipleship experience for accountability groups in the local church.
Dr. Mark E. Moore: I wouldn’t say it’s better. I’d say it’s more efficient. Why? Because we’re giving the highlight reel of the entire Bible. This will keep the busiest people most engaged with the least investment. Once a person achieves proficiency through Core 52 they’ll be far more prepared to dig into the details of any Bible book with less likelihood of getting lost along the way.
While most of the topics in your book are what could be expected (such as Creation, the Fall, Holiness, the Kingdom of God), the one that stands out from the rest for me is Gaining Grit. Please explain this chapter.
Dr. Mark E. Moore: Grit is a hot topic for psychologists like Angela Duckworth who see it as a key to success in life. Long before Duckworth, the Bible talked about the same thing with terms like endurance, long-suffering, and faithfulness. By using contemporary terms for pressing social problems I want readers to see that the Bible is the best manual for a healthy life. As a pastor in a local church, I don’t just want to be truthful; I want to be helpful and not just to people who know the Bible but for those investigating their faith. Couching biblical truths in common vernacular has helped our people onramp their faith at work and school.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: My life verse is John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.” John the Baptist knew the secret of success—losing yourself in exalting Jesus. What that means for me in practical terms is my second core verse, Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It’s only through service that any of us will find our greatest significance.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: Well, first of all, I can’t believe it’s a free resource. I’ve had more than a dozen years of formal theological training and paid…well, I can’t count that high. Literally all of the important resources for Bible study are free through your App. Core 52 is designed as an introduction to the major ideas of Scripture, but it’s not the end by any means. The greatest gains in Bible study are when individuals and groups are able to feed themselves. Imagine what could happen if each individual who reads Core 52 digs into each core verse using the tools you provide. They could not only move from curiosity to confidence, but they could then lead others to do the same. Never in the history of the world has there been more resources for scriptural self-sufficiency. Bible Gateway is a leader in the industry giving individuals the tools to dig into God’s Word at an unprecedented depth. It’s free; it’s in my pocket; and it’s a companion every Christians should have in their biblical arsenal.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Dr. Mark E. Moore: Thank you for your contribution to the kingdom at Bible Gateway. It’s more important than ever. Going back to the study we talked about as we began this interview: One of the most stunning stats was that 60% of those who want to know the Bible better are not connected to any church. That’s a majority! Core 52, in alliance with Bible Gateway, could be an onramp for those outside the church to not only discover the relevance of God’s Word but the connection to God’s people. It’s time for the power of God’s Word to be fully realized in God’s world.
Bio: Mark E. Moore is an author and teaching pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to that, he spent two decades as a New Testament professor at Ozark Christian College. Whether helping people make sense of Christianity or teaching students to understand the Bible, Mark’s life passion is to make Jesus famous. Mark and his wife, Barbara, reside in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, visit Core 52.
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