what's the difference?

This reflection comes out of my experience of the Alpha program; and in particular, the presentation: “Why and How Should I Read the Bible?”

In an age of spiritual self-help books and endless publications professing to know the meaning of life and the path to happiness, the question of the Bible’s significance needs exploration.
Now, one approach is to argue to the Bible’s legitimacy within history, tracing the relevant evidence regarding original manuscripts, archaeological discoveries, persistence of the message, etc. Once we have established the Bible’s credibility, we can then accept it as a “manual for life” as the Alpha program presents. But in the face of the so many other “manuals for life” – e.g. spiritual self-help books – we need to understand what distinguishes the Bible’s ideas from all the other ideas about faith and successful living. Quite simply, we need to communicate to others that THE BIBLE IS NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK!

In the time I’ve been studying theology, my appreciation for the narrative quality of the Bible has only grown with time. More than abstract ideas about God, faith, and life, the Bible presents truth in the telling of stories – stories about real people, in real places, who have real encounters with God. Unlike spiritual self-help books that often attempt to provide ideas and methods in order to help us escape reality, the Bible offers stories that help us better understand the reality in which we find ourselves. And with our own life-stories full of situations of joy, hurt, disappointment, peace, and chaos, we can relate to a God who interacts with people’s joy, hurt, disappointment, peace, and chaos as the biblical narrative presents.

The church, then, needs to communicate the Bible’s significance as a story of truth, not just a bunch of good ideas. Our world has enough good ideas, but not enough good stories. This is what makes the Bible different.

The church is the community that is at once the storyteller as well as a character in the story that is required by Christian affirmation of God’s redemption of the world through the people of Israel and the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth (Stanley Hauerwas)

1 comments:

Ryan said...

"The church, then, needs to communicate the Bible’s significance as a story of truth, not just a bunch of good ideas. Our world has enough good ideas, but not enough good stories."

Well said Dave.

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