#3 The Bible is story. This includes both individual stories in the varying “books” of the Bible, as well as an underlying story of God’s plan for redemption of creation (a.k.a. redemptive history).
To tell the truth, I kinda already talked about this a lot in last week’s post on reading The Bible as Literature. But let me expand this to talk about story on three levels.
- The overarching story running throughout scripture detailing God’s mission to redeem all of creation. You can also read here for a reformed perspective on “redemptive history.”
- The individual sub-stories within this plot line of the Bible (creation & fall in Genesis, the Patriarchs, Slavery & Exodus, God’s People in the Promised Land, Exile, The Messianic Savior-King, etc.)
- But also the individual stories we know and love: Adam & Eve’s encounter with the Serpent, The Sacrifice of Isaac, the 10 Plagues on Egypt, The Red Sea Deliverance, Joshua & the Spies, David & Goliath, Jesus & the Woman at the Well, Paul & Silas singing praises to God in the Philippian jail)
Think of all you’re missing out on if you read the Bible solely for the next doctrinal truth or for another rule to be obeyed. Stories capture the heart! That’s why Jesus primary method of teaching was through story. Again, some of the most beloved and memorable stories from the Bible come from the Parables Jesus told: The Prodigal Son, The Rich Man & Lazarus, The Parable of the Sower.
But for moment, let me return to #1 above, and recommend a couple of Vineyard scholars who have published works on this topic of the overarching redemptive theme running throughout the Bible and reading the Bible as story in general:
1) Consider picking up a copy of God’s EPIC Adventure: Changing our Culture by the Story we Live and Tell by Winn Griffin. “Dr. Winn” has really challenged me in so many ways by causing me to question my own presuppositions that influence how I have read the Bible. Let me highlight two of them for you:
- He challenged the idea that a distinction between devotional reading and studying the Bible (think exegesis) is even valid, labeling this a Platonic dualism (an artificial distinction of categories which have no basis in reality).
- Nor is he a fan of the inductive method for Bible Study, or of the idea of “application of scripture.”
2) Another great resource is Dr. Bill Jackson’s The Biblical Metanarrative: One God | One Plan | One Story. “Jax” traces the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Since he approaches the problem from a Kingdom theology perspective, he sees it as “the triumphant story of God ruling as king over his realm” in an all-out war with the rival kingdom of evil (in the interest of full disclosure: I’ve borrowed liberally here from the book’s description on Amazon). I had the privilege of serving as a Hub Mentor (something of an electronic TA for online learning) for the inaugural offering of the Biblical Metanarrative course at Vineyard Institute and I can assure you that this material is excellent!
For more info on these two books (and a general recommended reading list on Kingdom Theology) see Joshua Hopping’s excellent post Kingdom Theology Resources.
Until next time, my friends, when we’ll talk about radical Biblicism and why it may not be such a good thing after all! As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Charis & Shalom!