Friday, January 14, 2011

Good god

In reading chapter 4 of James Bryan Smith's book, The Good and Beautiful God, he has this nice little section on p. 79 dealing with understanding the true biblical narrative (versus the false cultural narrative that most of us are accustomed to)...
They say all musicals can be broken down into "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl." What if you isolated one section, "boy loses girl," and tried to explain the whole story with that single episode? Our understanding would be limited and distorted. The same is true when we take an isolated story that troubles us (for example, Ananias ans Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11) and fail to see the entire narrative. If we take an isolated story or verse ("Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" [Romans 9:13]) and try to build our doctrine of God on it, we commit biblical malpractice. Isolated passages must not rise above their place in the larger narrative. The dominant narrative of the Bible is a story of unearned grace, of a God whose love is not thwarted by human sinfulness, and of a Christ who dies for sinners (Romans 5:8). The minor narratives are a part of the ambiguity of all epic stories.

The metanarrative of the Bible is the story of the steadfast love of God that culminates in the incarnation, death and resurrection of God on behalf of a wayward world. Therefore, we should interpret the entire Bible and each of its parts in light of Jesus. It is noteworthy that every time Paul brings up a story from the Hebrew Bible, he interprets it in light of Jesus. Paul does not retell the story of Abraham by itself. He incorporates the story of Abraham into the story of Jesus. Abraham's faith is like the faith we have in Christ that makes us righteous apart from the law (Romans 4). Adam's fall was not the last word; Adam's sin was overturned by Jesus' sinlessness and self-sacrifice (Romans 5:12-15). Minor narratives must be interpreted in light of the major narrative, and the major narrative of the Bible is grace - undeserved and unearned love.

Ah... good stuff. There are also some good little snippets on pp. 86 & 87:
  • "What does God want from me? I believe he would answer, God wants you to know and to love him."
  • "God hates sin because it hurts his children... God is crazy about his children."
  • "The greatest honor we can give to God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love."
  • "What God most wants is to see you smile because you know how much God loves you."
  • "What if God is not mad at you? What if God were actually like the one in this narrative, a God who responds to us with 'absolute delight' regardless of how we look or feel, or what we have or have not done?"
Good stuff. Good book. Good God.

Peace out, my friends; and in.