I’ve been working on an online “Introduction to Christianity” class and decided to use the concept of “the Christian Story” as a framework for introducing the faith and answering a set of specific questions.
Before I talk about the questions, let me first talk about the idea behind the Christian Story. Also, l want to make it clear that I do not mean to imply that the Bible is fictional or false by my use of the word “story.” Instead, it is simply a helpful way to understand the big picture or central theme of the Bible. It is a way to see the forest rather than individual trees, so to speak.
So, a story is just a narrative which ties together various facts, events, and people.
It helps to consider some movies from popular culture to get the sense of what I mean by narrative.
In the movie “The Matrix,” the central narrative is that people are enslaved in a false reality and must achieve knowledge which allows them to escape it. In the movie “True Grit,” the central narrative is that Mattie Ross wants vengeance on her father’s killer and will pursue it at all costs. In the “Lord of the Rings” movies, the central narrative is that evil is intruding into a good world and corrupting it, the one ring of power must be destroyed and the king return in order to restore the world to its goodness.
So, if you think about the narrative for each of those movies, you can see how understanding the narrative helps to make sense of the facts, events, and people in those movies and what role they play. It helps you to see the bigger picture.
This brings us back, then, to the concept of the Christian Story. Again, what I don’t mean by “story” is that it is false or fictional. The Christian Story is true, and the basic narrative is that God created the world “very good,” humanity sinned and tainted the world so that it is no longer “very good,” Christ came as the promised Savior to deal with this sin, and Christ is returning on the Last Day to fully restore creation to being “very good” again.
That is the central narrative of the Scriptures. It ties together the facts, events, and people of the Bible into a larger narrative which is centered on Jesus Christ. It also provides a framework for understanding the Bible since it helps you to see the bigger picture.
In particular, the Christian Story helps with answering the following questions:
- Who is God?
- Who are we?
- What did God promise?
- How did God fulfill His promise?
- What has God done for us?
- How is God with us now?
- What are God’s promises for us now?
- How do we worship God?
- How does God rule over the world?
- How do we live in the world?
- What is our Christian hope?
As I said, I’m currently working on a class related to this, so I’ll post more information once it’s launched later this Fall. I also wrote a book a couple years ago called “The Christian Story: As Seen Through the Old Testament.”
I hope this idea helps you as you read the Bible. Think about how events in the Bible relate back to the central narrative (i.e. the Christian Story) that God is redeeming and restoring the world through Jesus Christ.