Tag Archives: Grant Horner

Interview with Grant Horner

Grant Horner stopped by for a quick interview. He has written Meaning at the Movies.

Christian Book Notes (CBN):  Could you share your testimony of how you came to know Christ as Lord and Savior.

Grant Horner (GH):  I was converted at the age of 18 1/2. I had been heavily into drugs for about 4 years, and was functional but still a real mess, ready to crash at any moment. I used marijuana with different water bongs at smokecartel, amphetamines (speed), Quaaludes, mescaline, and took lots of LSD. I also sold from time to time. I was very heavily into LSD and addicted to speed. A very bad combination. I really should be dead, to tell the truth. A Bible was put into my hand and I began to read. I had never read scripture before, never really heard a solid sermon, never really heard the gospel before, even. I read just 5 or 6 chapters in the gospels, said to myself – ‘oh, no – this is true, and I’m in trouble!’ and I was converted right then and there, and also miraculously released from the drugs.

(CBN):  Please share more about your self (ministry, family, books, etc.–this question always takes a different form depending on how it is answered.)

(GH):  Joanne and I were married in 1983 and we have three kids: Seth (25 and married to Carmen from Canada), Josiah (23 and engaged to Linda from Uganda), and Rachel (17). We live just north of LA in Santa Clarita, where I am a Professor at The Master’s College. I have a new book out from Crossway Meaning at the Movies which is a theological study of film and culture – it has been a bestseller and getting good reviews, which is really exciting for me! I have served as an elder in an Evangelical Free Church that we have been attending for about ten years, and I teach there regularly, as well as travelling all over the US speaking.

(CBN):  Readers here at Christian Book Notes know the name Grant Horner more because of your Ten Lists Bible Reading plan. Can you explain how you came about this particular plan? How long have you been reading your bible according to this plan?

(GH):  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 simple one in a 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!

I have been doing it off and on since then.

(CBN):  Can you give testimony to what reading your Bible with this plan has done for your walk with and knowledge of Christ?

(GH):  Sure – it completely transformed me as a human being. I went from a confused, rebellious, selfish drug addict to what God is making me to be every day: new in Him. Many of my friends from my old life ended up dead, or in rehab, or just plain ruined. But here I am – through no goodness of my own, that’s for sure.

(CBN):  Your recent book, Meaning at the Movies, is an excellent treatise on how and why to be discerning when watching a movie. How much of your college class on film influenced the writing of this book?

(GH):  Well, I’ve been teaching film for about 14 years, but I’d say that most of the ideas came about largely independent of that. The main thesis of the book, what I call the “origins of culture from the suppression of truth” comes from reading scripture and a few of my favorite theologians, especially Augustine and Calvin. But interaction with students is always a great place to work through ideas. I tend not to lecture but use Socratic-style discussions, with lots of questions being bounced around.

(CBN):   What is your favorite movie of all time and (assuming it is not explicitly Christian) can you share what qualities you like about the movie as a Christian discerning its content?

(GH):  I actually don’t really have one! I like a great many movies (and dislike many more, of course!) I like stories about humans experiencing human life and struggles as they really do. But that doesn’t mean I only like true-life stories; I also love science fiction and fantasy. I think “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is one of the greatest movies ever made. “Citizen Kane” is massively important in film history, and still plays well, and is also visually gorgeous. Zefferelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” is by far the best film version of the life of Christ, in my view.

(CBN):  How can we be praying for you and your ministry?

(GH):  That I would be faithful to be a good steward in using what God has given me to use for His glory!

(CBN):  Thank you for your time.  God bless.

Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner

Horner, Grant. Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer. Wheaton, Crossway, 2010. 224 pp. $16.99. Purchase at Amazon for $11.55 or less. Purchase for Kindle, too!


Grant Horner is best known here at Christian Book Notes for his Ten Lists Bible Reading Program. What many may not know, however, is that he is associate professor of English at the Master’s College and has taught film their for over fourteen years. In other words, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to movies! He also contributed to John MacArthur’s book Think Biblically! and is a regular speaker on topics ranging from pop culture to philosophy to current theological trends.


Divided into two parts consisting of eight chapters, Horner looks first at the practical considerations of watching movies. His opening chapter is hard hitting, yet encouraging enough to be worth the price of the book. He offers a look at how we, especially Americans, have found many and new ways to completely misunderstand basically everything. The final chapter of the first section looks at how we, as the Christian movie viewer, can question everything and redeem the even the times when we are watching movies.

The second section is pretty much a manual on how to view the various genres of movies prevalent in our culture today. He looks at genres like comedy, thriller, and romance movies. His conclusion is a discussion on the importance of movies actually having meaning and how man’s memory of these movies can either hinder or nurture spiritual growth.


It seems as though there has been a recent uptick in the need to be discerning at the movies. I have reviewed You are What You See by Scott Nehring recently and have even witnessed the explosion of sites like Plugged in Online by Focus on the Family as the Christian sub-culture (when compared to the rest of the world) is attempting to better equip one another to respond to what is being taught through cinema.

I would be curious to know how much of the book is based on his college curriculum that he teaches on film. (I will ask in an upcoming interview.) What I most appreciated about Meaning at the Movies is his biblio-centric approach to the discussion. For example, the second section is based primarily on his understanding of Romans 1.


The youth pastor who struggles with what his youth watch in the movies could not do any better than to purchase this resource and become well acquainted with the material. From this book, a youth pastor (and even a children’s pastor to a certain extent) can equip the youth to think critically and Christianly when at the movies.

I can even envision a Sunday evening study on being more discerning at the theater based upon this book. Scripture is sprinkled liberally throughout the book that it really becomes a guide to using the Bible as a topical tool to viewing movies.

Perhaps more importantly, are the parents of children and teens. They would do well to teach their children how to analyze a movie from a biblical understanding.

Grant Horner’s Ten Lists Bible Study System

I have received permission from Professor Grant Horner of the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. to share this with everyone.  This is an interesting way of reading the Bible.  I caution you though that if you decide to do this you will find your life will be revolutionized! –Terry Delaney

The Idea

Each day you will read one chapter from each list, in order. Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. On day one, you read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Matthew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly. As the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again!

Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and prophetic books about 1 ½ times. After you’ve read any particular book once or twice, your speed in that book usually doubles or triples because you’re familiar with it and can move quickly and confidently — because you are no longer merely decoding the text but thinking it through in the context of all of the scripture! Acts 20:27.

Even an ‘average’ reader, if focusing on moving through the text, rather than trying to figure everything out, can usually do this in about an hour a day – 5-6 minutes per chapter. If it is taking you longer, then you are ‘reading wrong’ – stay relaxed, focus, and just keep it moving. After a few days it gets *much* easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. I began in 1983 as a new Christian and have now read (most of) the Bible hundreds of times. You also need to get ONE Bible, keep it, and do all your reading in it, so you learn where everything is. I’ve had the same Bible since 1983 and I know it intimately. If you keep switching Bibles, you ‘lose’ this intimacy with the text. Find a translation and format you like and stick with it. If your Bible is falling apart — you probably aren’t.

Your Bible is the only thing on Earth that, as you wear it out, will actually work better and better.

The Ten Lists

List 1 (89 days)
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
List 2 (187 days)
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
List 3 (78 days)
Romans, I&II Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, Hebrews
List 4 (65 days)
I&II Thess, I&II Tim, Titus, Philemon, James, I&II Peter, I,II&III John, Jude, Revelation
List 5 (62 days)
Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
List 6 (150 days)
List 7 (31 days)
List 8 (249 days)
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I&II Samuel, I&II Kings, I&II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
List 9 (250 days)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,
Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
List 10 (28 days)


*Put these instructions in your Bible and review them from time to time*

• Read one chapter from each list each day, in one sitting or two. At the end of a book, go to the next book. At the end of the list – start it again. Do it in the order given above.

• Read quickly (without “speedreading”) in order to get the overall sense. Read as fast as you comfortably can with moderate retention. You’re not studying deeply or memorizing; shoot for 5-6 minutes per chapter. At the end of a chapter, move immediately to the next list.

• GET THROUGH THE TEXT – no dawdling, back-reading, looking up cross-references!

• There are different ‘kinds’ of reading: super-quick skimming, careful moderate-paced, studying the text, deep meditation. You should be between the first and second kind.

• Most people decrease their time spent and increase their retention after just two-three weeks! I now read and retain Matthew in 35 minutes, Romans in 20, Genesis in an hour!

• Don’t look up anything you ‘don’t get’ – real understanding will come through contextualizing by reading a LOT of scripture over time. Get through the text!

• If you miss a day or two – ok, get over it, then keep going. Don’t cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and quit! Move the bookmarks along, to find your place(s) quickly next day.

Heb 4:12&5:11-14; Eph 5:26&6:17; Col 3:16; 2 Tim 3:16; Ps 119; Ezra 8; Prov 3: 1-2, 10:14; Dan 1