Speed Learn the Old Testament?

Nope, he didn't speed learn the Old Testament.

Someone brought my attention to an ad promoting a workshop teaching people to “speed learn” the Old Testament.

I’m sure such an effort will motivate many to explore the beauty and the lessons of the Old Testament. Kudos to the organizers.

Many people intimidated by the Old Testament who will otherwise not touch it with a ten-foot pole will now be driven to make some attempts to read it.

That is all very noble and admirable but truth be told when I saw the ad I had a good laugh. As a matter of fact, I almost choked.

In my humble opinion the Bible – or any holy text for that matter – is not just another book to rush through.

Holy books are meant to be read prayerfully, accompanied by meditation and reflection.

During my recent pilgrimage to Israel, a fellow tripster came up to me and proudly declared, “I read the entire book of Psalms last night.”

All 150 chapters?

This person’s enthusiasm was certainly commendable, but I resisted the urge to shake my head.

Sure, to be fair, I have not analyzed any “speed learn” methodology in any detail, but I’ve seen it all in my over 30 years of consulting and even more years of trend-watching and the term itself already tells me what I needed to know. Speed learning is a method of learning designed to attain a higher rate of learning supposedly without reduction in comprehension. All well and good. But applying it to the Bible? Hmm, when I saw the ad I had to stifle a sniggle.

I am not surprised though at that ad or by the fellow tripster’s comment. In this day and age of text messages, remote controls with fast-forward, 20-second sound bites, WhatsApp, instant soup, “instant devotionals” like Our Daily Bread, elevator pitches, book summaries, fast food, and quick blurbs, people have short attention spans. They have no time or desire to plough through a thick tome. They prefer tweets. Twitter allows you to commit verbal diarrhea online, a tweet is a thought burped up, often without serious consideration, for the entire world to see. (I know enough people who have gotten into trouble for tweeting their spontaneous thoughts.)

Despite that, “fast track” appears to be the way to go.

Some things just take time. Some things just need time. I was the only person in the last company I worked at who had achieved the global record of over 98% satisfaction rating by participants of my training seminars; a record that still remains unbroken. I’ve often been asked how I was able to achieve such a high rating. My usual albeit somewhat facetious response has always been “Any seven-year-old kid can do this with 30 years of experience.”

Indeed some things really need time to gestate, evolve, develop and blossom. It took me decades of hard work to become my previous company’s most highly-rated speaker/trainer. (Those who’ve been reading my blog know I’ve since left the company to go into private practice.)

Fast track your spiritual life and you’ll also end up with unsound theology. Fast track your learning and you’ll miss some vital basics along the way. You’ll end up going around burping your spontaneous thoughts like asking if people have lost their salvation! Can salvation be lost? If you wonder if a person who is “saved” can lose his salvation, do speak to a theologian. I am not qualified to comment because I am no theologian. I’m just a big mouth. I’m not smug, just a big mouth. Still I don’t go around stirring shit by asking stupid trolling questions.

That’s the consequence of living in this day and age of instant results, and quick fixes. People are quick to judge too. Those prone to such behaviors should ask if they themselves are saved. Playing church and getting busily involved in church activities do not necessary mean one is “saved.”

I’m certainly no expert in things churchy but today in religious circles we have a perversion creeping in slowly but steadily – it is now fashionable to be church goers, to be part of the largely English-educated elite “doing church” and to be considered “spiritual haves” as opposed to a “spiritual have-nots.”

Church is another social thing to be involved in. Many people who go never seem to mind the quality of the sermons or the soundness of the theology. They also don’t question the authenticity of the fellowship, how genuine, compassionate and sincere members of the congregation are. Church becomes a ritual, something you do auto-pilot, something you “calendarize” or “pencil in” along with grocery shopping and weekly trips to the market. Oh, never mind the people lah. The excuse is “look to God, not to men” but God has given us brains and wisdom plus the Bible has warned us not to be unequally yoked. Yes, shocking as it may sound, one could actually be unequally yoked with fellow worshippers in the same place of worship!

It’s so easy isn’t it? So easy to replicate one’s country club experience inside a church or temple or mosque or synagogue.

If believers today have to pay a heavy price for their faith and be persecuted the way their counterparts were persecuted in the olden days, would they still “do church”?

Yes I have been to stagnating churches that are full of high and mighty cliques with members who look aghast at you because you don’t live in a private property, drink wine or drive a German car. I have been to churches where the carpark looks like a continental car showroom. I have been to churches where people judge you by the way you dress, the type of watch you wear, the breed of your pet dog, ad nauseam. These people do not reach out to the lost. These people look down on others. They only mingle with the “right” people.

Christ preached about such people a long time ago. He called them hypocrites. These pew warmers belong to churches that do not grow.

So get your theology right, don’t cause others to stumble, and “do church” right.

And think twice before attempting to speed learn the Old Testament.

You can’t fast track your spiritual growth.

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