Leviticus your neighbour

No, it’s not a naughty word, nor is it the title of a film about the life of Nelson Mandela 😉

It’s the 3rd book of the Bible. It’s one of the bits with all the gory sacrifices and (seemingly!) obsolete laws and rituals.

This time of year, many Christians make resolutions and plans to read through the Bible in the coming year. It’s a commendable goal and regular bible reading (& study, in context, history and genre etc) is part of the life of anyone who is serious about knowing, believing in, trusting and living for God. However in an average reading plan, of a few chapters a day (8-15min) many people come unstuck somewhere around the end of January.

Continue reading “Leviticus your neighbour”

The Bible in 3D – Press Release


The full website and details are here. Below is the press release which was prepared today after we did the photo shoot.

For most people, reading the Bible is like watching a foreign movie with no subtitles. A seminar in Katoomba on 22 March 2014 will take the mystery away and make it jump off the page… in 3D.

Doug Haley and Mike Bull, both from Katoomba, and Albert Garlando from Sydney, are holding a one day seminar in the ballroom of the Carrington Hotel for Bible readers and lovers of great literature. It is designed to show how the ancient texts use the same techniques to connect with people as the screenwriters, directors and musicians behind today’s pop culture.

“Modern readers see texts as flat transmissions of data, so they miss a whole channel of communication,” said Mike Bull. “To compensate, Bible scholars have given us a list of rules which is as long as the Bible itself! But the Bible is just like any other well-crafted book. You just dive right in and let the author fill you in as you go along. We’ll show you how the ancient writers added depth using clever tools like symbols, symmetry, repetition and fractals.”

“The good thing is that the best TV shows and movies are using these sorts of things more and more in their stories. The Bible is a very visual, artistic and musical book, so this new generation raised on visual media already has all the skills they need to understand and enjoy it.”

“The most surprising payoff is the book of Revelation. Readers don’t get what it’s about because they don’t have the books of Moses under their skin. It’s like watching Shrek with no familiarity with the fairy tales, nursery rhymes or pop culture behind its clever references and ironic jokes. Watching Shrek is good training for Bible study!”

Doug Haley, who is doing a PhD on Isaiah and tutoring in Old Testament at the University of Sydney, will introduce the Bible’s visual language. Mike Bull, a local graphic designer and theology blogger, will explain the literary devices. Albert Garlando is a pastor in Sydney, and he will talk about how all this highbrow stuff plays out in life and ministry.

For info on the seminars and a free ebook, visit www.readingthebiblein3d.com

Full contact details:

Michael Bull
PO Box 331
Katoomba NSW 2780
T 0419 415 056
info @ readingthebiblein3d.com

Reading the Bible in 3D


I am the lesser of 3 speakers at a conference in March next year. There is a website with the details, background, booking information etc. There is also a blog that we will post to in the lead up to the conference next year.

A bit of my bio was recently posted on the blog, a copy is below. Add the Blog to your feeder or watch list and stay up to date as things unfold in the months ahead.


“I was relying on techniques and strategies, not on the God who revealed himself in Scripture and in Jesus.”

It might not have been the best career strategy, but when I finished high school I went directly into Bible college to train for pastoral ministry. I wasn’t a red hot brand plucked from the fire, I was the red hot brand that was going to start the fire… a bonfire: Elijah versus the prophets of Baal style. Or so I thought. But there is only so much momentum that youthful zeal can provide. Sooner rather than later wisdom is needed, but very often reneging on “naive” youthful absolutes is misinterpreted as wisdom. Instead of allowing God to shape you and recreate you through death to self and new life, many opt to abandon the Bible and quench their desire to achieve something for God. I didn’t have that option.

A few short years after finishing my initial training, I went to Africa to serve in a preaching and teaching role. I was a sort of travelling trainer of local Church planters. At the time I thought nothing of the fact that I was only 26 and was holding weekly seminars to tens and hundreds of men many years my senior, telling them, “This is how it’s done!” Over and over again I encountered situations that I had no idea how to handle: Cultural problems, medical crises, financial administration, political unrest, murders, witchcraft (not the Hollywood stuff, the real thing), along with all the rest of the issues preachers and missionaries have to deal with in third world countries. It was great. I was having a ball!

In the middle of all of that though I discovered that I needed to reassess my grasp of how the Bible works and how it applies to life and ministry. The techniques and strategies that I had absorbed and assumed as a teenager just didn’t work. But that is the point of my story. I was relying on techniques and strategies, not on the God who revealed himself in Scripture and in Jesus. I was forced to go back and rebuild a theology that is for all of life not just a lecture hall.

I am not speaking at the 3D conference as a scholar or a tried and tested veteran of ministry. If this seminar needed another slogan, it would be, “Blokes punching above their weight”. Certainly, I have completed the odd tour of duty here and there and maybe even earned a stripe or two, but I am no expert. Rather, I position myself more as the lowest common denominator. This is to say, if I can get this stuff then so can you.

The idea that God reveals himself in the Bible as a Covenant maker and continues to work out that same process in his providence is shaping the way I live, think, read, do theology and serve the Church. It is intensely practical. I am finding that I am increasingly pressed to study the Bible in more detail and to love God more deeply as he constantly breaks me and remakes me.

I hope the 3D seminars light a fire in you as well, and give you greater momentum and vision to live for the glory of our Lord and Saviour.

Al Garlando


Reading the Bible? You must be out of your mind!

When responding to a proposal to distribute Bibles to school children in the UK as a way of marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible translation a couple of years ago, Professor Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, said: “A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian.”

Reading the Bible is one thing. Obtaining something valuable as a result of the reading is another. In Dawkins opinion, reading it would “disabuse [the reader] of the pernicious falsehood” that the Bible is a moral book.

I agree with his statement. The Bible is not about morals, nor is it an polemic on how to be more moral. It simply is not so. However, if you have never read it before, it can baffle you considerably. Yet, so many who do read (some of) it, still insist it is a moral story. This ignores the authors intent because the Bible is not a moral book teaching a behavioural code. It is God revealing himself.

as it is written:

“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-11

Because he is revealing himself, he is the one that gets to decide the meaning of what he says. Without God setting the agenda for what the Bible means, you become a bit like a sighted person trying to tell a blind person what colour looks like. You have no frame of reference. God gives us his frame of reference in the Bible.

Related Article:

Why words are adequate

An Embarrassment of Riches

How do we know that the New Testament has been reliably transmitted from the first century down to today? I lead a short seminar for HSC and Uni students today discussing this question in relation to the historicity of Jesus Christ. Some of the data, facts and figures on this topic are summarised in the below video by Dan Wallace.

Dan Wallace is Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and a highly regarded scholar on ancient manuscripts.

Have you read the New Testament recently? Here’s a good place to start.