Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Enjoying the old, old story

Chris Pixley has been citing from .Daniel Block's essay in Giving the Sense (ht: Milton Stanley). I bought the book a while ago but never really got around to reading it, until now.

We're warned against rushing to preaching Biblical narrative, looking for points for personal application without carefully considering the text.

This stops us in our tracks when we're searching for immediate devotional application from small sections of narrative - sometimes we need to take more time, slow down, read bigger and longer and wait a while. Delayed gratification. Careful study will yield authoritative teaching from God's word.

Block makes a number of points but concludes with two very helpful tips:
  • Read more, not less of the Biblical text. We're challenged to read plenty of the text. Get the Bible open and read plenty of it outloud. And read it well, with expression and right emphasis.
  • Develop the sermon around the theological overflow that derives from the passage. Pay careful attention to grammer and syntax in the study but then bring the point of the passage to the people.
Preachers and pastors, he says, are
"vested with the awesome priviledge of telling and retelling the old, old story in new and fresh ways, but unless with grasp the intent the authors of the stories were intent on communicating , our proclamation may be no more than popular pyschology and ethics in spiritual dress."
Five questions to ask:
  • What does this passage tell us about God?
  • What does it tell us about the world and society in general?
  • What does it tell us about the human condition, the nature of sin, the destiny of humankind?
  • What does it tell us about the way God relates to human beings?
  • What does it tell us about an appropriate ethical and spiritual response to the work of God in one's life?
One last quote:
"In the final analysis, the subject of the entire history of salvation is God, and the metanarrative of biblical revelation is nothing if it is not about the grace and the glory of God who reveals himself in history, and whose record of revelation is preserved in the Scriptures"
As I spend time in 2 Chronicles at the moment these are useful things to keep in mind. It's all to easy to pursue doctrine in the more obviously teaching books (like the NT Letters) but the narrative has much to teach us, enfleshed in its characters and story.

One of many highlights at Relay 1 this year was having Mo teach the grace of God from the narratives of Luke 15 (ok, parables) and Gideon. It's easy to go to Romans or Galatians (and I love those books) but it's also great to get off the beaten track and into the Old Testament story, a genre in which much of God's salvation plan is unveiled.

All of which is part of why Jonah is one of my favourite books.


  1. Can I hazard a 6th question, which is kinda the point that the quote makes.

    -What was the author intent on communicating?


  2. Yeah, that comes up earlier in the essay. Thanks for highlighting that though! :)

  3. I think the story of the Prodigal Son is a good place to start for exploring the theme of grace and redemption outside of the Pauline Epistles. It is an excellent introduction into God's love for sinners.

  4. The thing that strikes me with luke 15 is that whilst the first part is about grace to "sinners", the rest really shows grace for the "self-righteous" - the grumbling pharisees of v1.