Grant Horner is Associate Professor of English at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. A husband and the father of three, Horner is best known to the world for developing a Bible reading plan that is spreading like wildfire. What is the plan? Read 10 chapters of the Bible per day from 10 different sections of Scripture. Professor Horner was gracious enough to sit down and answer 25 questions about his Bible reading system and himself.
Pastor Brett:. I see you studied at both UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke. I didn’t know they would allow that. So, Tar Heels or Blue Devils?
Prof. Horner: I never paid attention to college sports. I taught at University of Alabama for 6 months before I realized that all the noise coming from the big round building on campus was crazed fans screaming ROLL TIDE. When I lived in North Carolina, I was doing PhD work at both UNC and Duke, the great archrivals. I figured out pretty quickly that it would be fun to put bumper stickers for BOTH schools on my car, as I went back and forth between the two campuses and parked. Yep — it was very humorous. Rednecks pulled up next to me at stoplights and called out “boy, you got yersef some kind problem or somthin’???” You could sometimes hear a gun cocking. Lucky I wasn’t shot.
Pastor Brett: You have a book that was recently released. Tell us a little bit about that venture.
Professor Horner: It was released in late June from Crossway and is called Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer. It is about theology and movies, but with a highly unusual approach. I’ve developed a new biblical theology of culture, and the book is based around these ideas. Over years of thinking about scripture and culture I’ve put together what is being called a groundbreaking approach to the issue, and it really opens up the world of what I call biblical-critical cultural discernment. It is written for a general readership, and I’m hoping Christians as well as nonbelievers will give it a look, and see what a powerful biblical approach to culture does for the mind, and for the Christian living in a pagan culture. The book has gotten excellent reviews and has been on the Amazon bestseller list since it came out. It is definitely stirring the pot for Christian thought about culture — what we do with it, how it works, and most importantly, where it comes from.
Pastor Brett: Let’s talk about your Bible-reading plan. How did you develop this system?
Professor Horner: As a brand new Christian the Bible was entirely new to me and very intimidating. I could not get a handle on it as quickly as I wanted to for the first few months. I was bewildered. I found a number of programs, but none of them seemed to work for me. There was one in a Chick Tract that caught my eye that had you reading a lot of books at once, and so I adapted it and built in all the other components as it now stands. I shared it with a few people over the years, but never thought about publicizing it. The original “plan” is still written in blue ink in my same Bible, from 1983!
Pastor Brett: Were you brought up in a home in which the Bible was revered? And read?
Professor Horner: Respected, I’d say, but not revered or really read. There were always Bibles lying around, and a few times I tried to read starting in Genesis, but of course I gave up when I hit that first genealogy! We didn’t go to church much and I knew nothing really about Christianity.
Pastor Brett: Whose idea was it to put your plan on Facebook?
Professor Horner: My own. A few students over the years asked me how to read the Bible better, so I let them copy out my ten lists right out of my Bible. I got tired of doing that, so I set up the Facebook page. It EXPLODED immediately — went “viral” as they say. The Facebook page now has about 9000 members, and the plan is all over the web — on thousands of websites. I get messages and emails and calls every day, more than I can respond to. And from everywhere. Last spring it swept through East Africa, then West Africa — I got barely understandable messages from people in places I’ve never heard of, thanking me. I had a rush of new FB friends on my personal page, all added from a few towns in West Africa last summer — it was hilarious! I finally figured out that someone started spreading the system over there, and then people went to my personal page and requested to be my friend. I was wondering for a few days “who the heck is Kwalikimba Mogubitu? And why is he (or she — I couldn’t tell by the name) sending me virtual hearts and angel wings????”
Pastor Brett: Did you ever have a “moment” in which you said to yourself, “Wow! I can’t believe how this thing has taken off!” (in terms of popularity)?
Professor Horner: Yes — right off the bat. I mean there were hundreds of people in the first 2-3 hours on Facebook. And though it is not as fast now, it is still a steady stream. And regular requests to license it for various computer and phone applications. Plus a number of churches and denominations who wanted to license it. One of the top guys in the conservative American Anglican churches contacted me to license it for his denomination; as far as I know they have distributed to all their members.
Pastor Brett: When it comes to your use of the plan, how often do you miss a day? If so, do you double up the next day or just move on?
Professor Horner: Well — all the time, depending! I actually just restarted it (I’m on day four) after being off of it for about a year. Sometimes I do it virtually every day for 5 years, even doubling up (20 chs/day). Other times I read/study differently. But I keep coming back to this system. I’d say I have been steadily “on it” for a total time of about 24 years or so. There’s nothing like it. And — it *really* helps if I’m teaching or preaching on any topic or passage at all. Your mind is just loaded with cross-references. I often preach and teach with no real prep at all. No kidding. I don’t recommend that, of course, it is just that I am able to go up and preach without notes for an hour on a passage, just pulling cross-references out of my head, flipping around in my Bible, and contextualizing every scripture with other scriptures, then applying it to life. Probably not a seminary-approved style, huh? My favorite thing is open-mike Bible Q&As, which I’ve done many times. They bring a question, and we go right to scripture. You better know your Bible, because if you have 200 or 1000 people there, there is always some Gamaliel who just wants to stump you instead of asking a real question! 1 Peter 3.15, right hand page, right hand column, 1/4 of the way down…
Pastor Brett: Is it fair to say that you have become addicted to reading the Bible?
Professor Horner: Yes. It is a positive addiction. It is connotatively a negative word — “drug addict” “sex addict” — but functionally it shows us what we are actually designed for. We are made to have regular needs, driven by powerful desires. We just go to the wrong sources (drugs and alcohol abuse, illicit sex, pornography, overwork, entertainment, over-focus on the appearance, and so forth). We are designed to be addicted — to God and His Word. We need it, we must have it, and if we don’t, it makes us “sick” — we don’t function rightly.
Pastor Brett: Having done this for years, and having become so familiar with the Bible, do you find it difficult to keep your mind engaged when doing your daily reading? How hard is it for you not to just fly rapidly through your daily reading since you already know what is written?
Professor Horner: I deliberately also do study-reading and meditative reading as well. I really only use this system now for what I call “imprinting” — getting the text burned into my mind, as much for ministry usage as personal devotional time. But it does have secondary devotional effect. It is a very effective way to get “the whole counsel of God” in the forefront of your consciousness.