As Allstar month continues, Dallas takes a look at one his favorite geekdoms… Anime! How has Dallas’ love for anime helped him to understand the Bible? Come find out!
It’s silly to think that anime has helped me understand the Bible more. But it’s a true statement! It is not that certain shows/movies have specifically helped, but rather my approach to watching anime has helped me in my approach to understanding the Bible. Let me show you how.
My Approach to Anime
Anime is one of those things that, on the surface level, you can enjoy or dislike. You can see the art and appreciate it simply for its artistic value. You can see a simple story and appreciate it for its storytelling. But when approaching anime, you must remember that these are Japanese stories. A world of culture and history surrounds even the silliest of stories within anime. If you take the time to look into Japanese history and culture, anime becomes far more vibrant and exciting. Let me give you an example.
Celeste and I are currently making our way through an anime called Bleach in preparation for a new season coming to Disney Plus in October. Currently, we are amid (yet another) filler arc called “Zanpakuto Unknown Tales Arc.” In this arc, a new villain named Muramasa has appeared and caused all of the Soul Reapers’ Zanpakutos (swords) to materialize into their own personification. This has caused a battle between the Zanpakutos and the Soul Reapers. The Zanpakutos claim they’ve been wronged and not valued by the Soul Reapers and want revenge.
This is a bizarre occurrence. For all intents and purposes, the soul reapers are samurai. Samurai are extremely honoring of their swords. Their swords are considered an extension of themselves, and they go to great lengths to care for them. In the show, you see, time after time, the soul reapers having that same mindset. Then you have the introduction of Muramasa. In the show, Muramasa claims to be Zanpakuto too. In history, Muramasa is the name of an infamous sword smith. His blades were known to be the strongest and sharpest in Japan. However, he was also known to be a very violent man. It is believed that his temperament cursed his blades, causing his swords and their owners to be bloodthirsty. His blades were believed to corrupt whoever owned them and, if not satisfied, would turn on their owner.
Suddenly this filler arc is far more interesting. Here we have a villain corrupting the Zanpakutos of the Soul Reapers. He is turning the extension of the samurai against them, which is heartbreaking for these Soul Reapers. Now what I’m watching is far more vibrant and exciting because I understand Japanese culture and history.
One day I thought, “I put all this effort into understanding anime better; why don’t I put that same effort into understanding what’s truly life-changing.” Thus I turned this approach toward the scriptures.
How This Helps Me to Understand the Bible
On the surface, the Bible appears to be a collection of wisdom, history, and poetry. Some appreciate it; some do not. But, as a Christian, I see it as living and active. It is God-breathed. Understanding it is imperative. Even with the belief that what I hold is from God Himself, we must be cautious about how we approach the Bible. Some believe that you should just accept that whatever your pastor and other spiritual leaders tell you about the Bible is true. At the same time, some teach that you don’t need any guidance, just read it and take it at its surface level.
But this is not the case. If anything, we are urged to dig deep into the scriptures and understand them in a fuller sense. In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul presents the gospel to the Bereans. But they didn’t just accept Paul’s words. Instead, they dug deep into the scriptures to ensure that Paul spoke the truth. So how do we do our due diligence in reading the Bible? Let me give you some basic steps I give everyone when they approach the Bible.
Two Questions To Ask
- Ask yourself, “Who’s the writer?”
- In extension to this question, always be sure to ask who’s speaking in the passage. Understanding who’s writing helps you to understand motive and context. Understanding who’s speaking helps to ensure that what is godly is actually godly. Once I was speaking with a member of a cult that presented itself as a Christian group. This was simply a conversation where I was striving to understand what they actually believed. I was surprised to find them quoting pagans and the enemies of God as part of their defense for why they believed what they believed.
- Ask yourself, “who was this written to?”
- This is an essential aspect of understanding the scriptures. The different letters were written to specific people with a specific purpose. Understanding the culture of those who originally received the text helps you to understand why certain things are said and not said. If you don’t have an appropriate context of why things were said, then you can’t have an appropriate context as to how instructions were applied.
Once you have these things down, you’re fully equipped to apply the scriptures appropriately to your life. Yes, it takes a bit of work to fully understand the scriptures, which is why you need to be grounded in a community with pastors, teachers, and discipleship leaders willing to guide you and help you. Not that you should entirely rely on their words alone. You should invest in resources to help yourself grow.
There are a few resources that I can recommend to help you in this journey. Regarding online/software-based resources, Blue Letter Bible is a great online resource that’s free. Logos Bible Software is fantastic software with tons of resources. Unfortunately, it is very pricey, but it’s an excellent investment.
As far as books go, you can get some excellent commentaries. I personally love the Expositors Bible Commentary and the Tyndale Commentary sets. Expositors also has a fantastic two-volume abridged version.
Finally, if nothing else, get yourself a decent study bible. Try to get one that gives you various views on how people have approached the scriptures. Over the years, I’ve used the Life Application Study Bible and the Spirit-Filled Life Bible, and I’m currently using the Fire Bible. The Fire Bible is an excellent study bible with tons of commentary to help you understand what’s happening in the scriptures.