Other Teaching Ministries
Ichthys is the site that I use the most in my study of the Bible, and have I no hesitation in saying that it is the reason I am a serious Christian today.
The site has 4 big series: an introductory series on 1 and 2 Peter (probably the most accessible writing on the site), a systematic theology (not quite complete yet, but mostly so), a series on Satanic prehistory and the role of humanity in God’s Plan, and a series about the coming tribulation (which goes through Revelation in full, as well as getting deep into Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc.). In addition, the author of the site, Dr. Robert Luginbill, has posted many of the email questions he has answered here (scroll down to the bottom to see the archived topics). Over the years, the posted emails have covered quite a bit of ground – to the point that they are now almost comprehensive.
The site’s author fields questions at the email address [email protected]. Since I have been using the site, he has answered literally hundreds of emails of mine with great care and dedication. I have never felt like any of my questions were ignored or dealt with in a shallow manner.
I stand on the shoulders of this site and its author, and I cannot recommend them enough.
Run by a seminary friend of Dr. Luginbill, Curtis Omo, Bible Academy is an excellent complement to Ichthys. Bible Academy is, first and foremost, a video-teaching ministry – in the style of Khan Academy and other open learning initiatives. It has a related YouTube channel that I use to go through the videos – while it is easier to browse through the videos on the YouTube channel (at least in my opinion), the website itself lets you download the files for offline playback. The standalone site also has some things that are not accessible on the YouTube channel – such as translations of books, and written explanations of doctrines.
Bible Academy serves a fundamentally different purpose than Ichthys. I find that the video format is less good for serious study – the kind that takes 100% concentration and focus – and very difficult topics. This does not mean it is not useful in its own way, however; it is much easier to watch or listen to the videos of Bible Academy than read the long, dense studies of Ichthys if one is doing things like driving or cooking. Additionally, I find that the video format requires less total brainpower, so on days when I’m really wiped out but still want to spend some time studying the Bible, I can get through a video, even though I wouldn’t be able to touch a written study without my eyes glazing over.
I would say Bible Academy has a better selection of beginner to intermediate materials than does Ichthys, which is geared toward mature Christians. Bible Academy even has some series aimed specifically at children, even though everyone can get something out of them.
Bible Study Resources
I recommend that you have a look at the following websites:
- Blue Letter Bible: superior online Bible study site
- STEP Bible: superior online Bible study site
- Christian Classics Ethereal Library: has many old but good Christian works
- Studylight: has many concordances, dictionaries, and the like
These are two free Bible study programs that accomplish most everything that the average Christian needs. They are both quite good, but cater to slightly different audiences. theWord is more configurable than e-Sword, but has a bit more of a learning curve. e-Sword tries to be as simple as possible, and is what I would recommend for people who don’t get along with technology very well.
Here is a list of helpful resources to use within the programs:
- Bibles: I recommend starting with the free options (KJV, ESV, ASV), and then purchasing others for comparison purposes later. I like the NASB, NKJV, HCSB, and old (1984) NIV.
- Cross references: those built into Bible versions, those that you build yourself. (I find the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge to be rather hit or miss – in my experience, it is more useful to have a smaller number of high-quality cross references).
- Concordances: Search based on Strong’s numbers (using Strong’s enabled Bible versions).
- Topical Indices: Nave’s Topical Index, Torrey’s Topical Textbook.
- Bible Dictionaries: The International Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) 1915, Hasting’s Bible Dictionary, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary.
- Lexicons: Thayer’s (Greek), Brown-Driver-Briggs (Hebrew), and Strong’s Dictionary (Greek and Hebrew). In both programs, these will be accessible to English-speakers through Strong’s numbers.
- Verse-by-verse helps: Bob Utley’s Study Guide Commentary Series (available for e-Sword here and theWord here).
Learning how to use these programs is worth it for the speed of cross-referencing alone. I do not think that most people need anything more than what I have listed above, since non-teachers should be getting their teaching from a good teaching ministry, not commentaries.
Logos, BibleWorks, and Accordance
These Bible Study programs can only fully be utilized by teachers and scholars, and I would not recommend anyone else invest in them unless money is no issue. I own resources in all three, and think that they all have their pros and cons (about which I plan to write in the future). I am happy to be able to use all of them.
I would not recommend teachers purchase a base package in Logos or Accordance (despite their marketing), since teachers need almost exclusively original language resources (plus a few other ancillary materials). Most of the things in the base packages will be of no use to teachers who are doing things the right way.