Here is part 2 of my interview with Grant Horner, developer of Prof. Horner’s Bible Reading System. For part 1, click HERE.
Pastor Brett: Can you give a summary of your routine in terms of your daily devotional life?
Professor Horner: I am not a routine guy. The funny thing here is my use of the word “system” — I hate systems! But there was no other word.
I may have a week where I do not actually physically read the text hardly at all. Then in a whole day I may read through Job and Romans, or all four Gospels. Life is unpredictably rhythmic, and that’s ok. But — and this is key — the ‘non-reading’ days have the after-effects of all the imprinting. Scripture is constantly before me and informing my thoughts. I am in front of people all the time, teaching and speaking. I also do a lot of counseling. I rarely have to actually open the Bible — it is just accessible to my mind and I refer to it directly. Scripture itself talks about having the Word in your heart, your mind, almost physically in and on your body, like a necklace. We are to have the mind of Christ — that is, we must think like the Word.
Pastor Brett: Are there any dramatic testimonies that have come in about people using this plan?
Professor Horner: Hundreds of them! Just skim the Facebook page. Hundreds, thousands of people say it has changed their life. Tim Challies has the second-most read Christian website in the world, challies.com. He just did an article on the system a few weeks ago and said of it “Best of all, I find that I look forward to reading the Bible most days. Somehow this system has increased my delight in the Word.” What could be better than that, I ask you?!?
One couple met through my Facebook page due to their usage of the system — and they got married! Then they showed up together at the Bible study I lead. Can’t beat that!
And I may be the best testimony of all. I went from a deeply damaged drug addict to a brand new convert in February 1983. I started the system in the summer or Fall of 1983. A year later, I had read (for example) the Gospels four times, went twice through the Pentateuch and the Psalms, Job and Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon 6 times, Proverbs a dozen times, ALL of Paul 4 times…..you get the idea. In one year! I hate to say it, but I know for a fact that there are many folks sitting in churches right now who have never read the whole Bible through a single time in their lives, or even just all of Ecclesiastes, or the Psalms or Proverbs or Exodus. What a loss for them — and for the rest of the church, because they will be crippled by ignorance, weak from starvation, and in many cases, still enslaved to many sins! How can a body function if many of its members are withered by starvation? The knowledge is not the key, of course — but that is the first step to wisdom, knowing the Word intimately, and knowing it IN CONTEXT. THEN — and only then, can it change you. On the shelf it is tragically inert; in the heart is vibrantly alive, and cutting away, and building up.
I was a brand new, one-year-old baby Christian — and people at church were asking me Bible questions! I went out and did door-to-door evangelism, some street preaching, and became the classic “Jesus Freak” at work. A year or two earlier I had been buying, selling, and using LSD. You tell me.
Pastor Brett: Beside yourself, do you know who has been on this plan the longest?
Professor Horner: You know, I just don’t know. A few family members have used it off and on for many years, though.
Pastor Brett: Does your wife use your plan? How about your kids?
Professor Horner: No, she’s never done it, actually — not her style, and I don’t pressure her. I think two of my kids have used it at this point. But again, no pressure. I have been very careful not to cram Christianity on my three kids — they came to church with us until they were sixteen, and after that, it was only if they wanted to come. I don’t preach at home, run elaborate family devotions, have a “rule-y” home, or have what I call “Jesus-Junk” all over the place. I have tried to keep our spiritual life very organic, natural, low-pressure, and real. I’ve probably made thousands of mistakes. But — all my kids are solid, professing believers, ages 25, 23, and 16.
Pastor Brett: Is there any connection between your expertise of literature and the way the lists are broken up, in terms of genre?
Professor Horner: The lists are broadly genre-based, yes. But it doesn’t really have to be that way. The interweaving of numerous sections of scripture is the key, along with keeping you moving along.
Pastor Brett: How often do you personally adjust the lists for, say, greater attention to a particular book?
Professor Horner: Whenever I feel like it! It is deliberately flexible. I may drop the lists and just read through Hebrews for a while. I did that once — ninety days of reading Hebrews 1-3 times per day. A total of about 200 readings of Hebrews, one after another. Why? I was getting ready to teach the book at church. So I imprinted it on my mind and heart for three months. THEN I felt ready to read some commentaries with discernment, many of which I found to be awful! I kept wanting to go back to just the text. I taught the book every Sunday for four years, and loved every minute of it!
Pastor Brett: I was surprised to find out you are a literature professor. How often do people express surprise that you are not a Bible or theology professor? Of course, you are in good company…with C. S. Lewis!
Professor Horner: I am one [a Bible/theology prof]. I’m just disguised as a Literature Professor! Read my book, or any of my stuff, or sit in a class, or watch me on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean. And how embarrassing for poor CS Lewis — to be lumped with me in any context. Poor bloke.
Pastor Brett: I’ve come across a lot of Christians who say this plan is just too intense, especially among stay-at-home mothers. Do you recommend a lighter version of your plan or what would you say to such a person?
Professor Horner: It IS intense. So is life. Do Marines go onto the front lines after some relaxing training for three days at Disneyland? And, yes, my wife, a stay-at-home mom, can tell you all about how tough it is — and important! Moms MAKE the next generation. So they should figure out the best way that works for them to get saturated with scripture!