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‘The greatest thing since sliced bread’: The difference between a deep and shallow faith

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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‘The greatest thing since sliced bread’: The difference between a deep and shallow faith
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On this day in 1928, Missouri-based Jeweler Otto Rohwedder changed the world. If you’ve never heard of Rohwedder, that’s understandable (I hadn’t either until recently). However, chances are that he has had a profound impact on your life.

You see, ninety-two years ago Rohwedder sold the world’s first pieces of machine-sliced bread. And while it took a few years to really catch on (and required ads to show people how to use it initially), eventually it became a fixture in households across the country.

Americans became so dependent on the convenience that when the government ordered that the bread-slicing machines could no longer be produced during World War II in an effort to save on steel, the uproar rivaled that of gas rationing, and the ban was lifted a mere two months after going into effect.

I shudder to think what my life as the father of two small kids would be like if I had to manually slice bread every time they wanted a sandwich, and the fact that I still have all ten fingers is likely due in no small part to Rohwedder’s invention. However, outside of a slight curiosity at the old cliché “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” I’d never really given the pre-dissected loaf’s origin much thought.

What’s more troubling, though, is that the same can often be said for aspects of my relationship with God.

The difference between a deep and shallow faith

It can be easy to take certain beliefs for granted simply because they’re part of our daily walk with the Lord. But taking the time to understand them rather than simply accept them is often the difference between a deep and shallow faith.

Take the Bible, for example.

The majority of evangelical Christians agree that it’s God’s divinely inspired revelation to humanity and concur with Paul that it’s “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

But when was the last time you reflected on just how amazing that reality is? Moreover, when was the last time you did more than read a few pages before going on with your day?

And when you read, do you give thought to the larger historical context or the genre and purpose of the passage you’re studying? (“How can I study the Bible?” is a good place to start if you’d like to know a bit more about reading the Bible well.)

Ultimately, any time spent in Scripture is better than no time spent in Scripture. But when we truly grasp the nature of what we’re reading, we position ourselves to better understand what the Holy Spirit might be trying to tell us.

After all, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). And if you want it to speak to you, then taking the time to wrestle with what you’re reading is a great place to start.

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