“The Bible is more deadly in one man’s hand than a whiskey bottle is in another.” from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
“American young people are unwittingly being formed into an imposter faith that poses as Christianity, but that in fact lacks the . . . missional clarity necessary for Christian discipleship.” Almost Christian, Kendra Dean
Somewhere along the way contemporary Christianity has moved the good news in Christ from being the center of everything not only in church, but in all of life, to being a part of a larger religious smorgasbord still called Christianity. Just note how we have developed elaborate spectacles ostensibly to display the gospel but ironically have served better to display ourselves, our talents, or our church.
We see this also in how we too often teach the Bible. We have created what Christian Smith calls Therapeutic Moralistic Deism, a way of teaching the Bible that focuses less on gospel power and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit of God and more on the ability to teach principles to help people change themselves. I call this an Aesop’s Fables approach to Scripture, where we teach a Bible story and give a moral to the story. We still believe salvation comes through Jesus’ work on the cross, but as for much of the Bible, it is more like this: David killed Goliath so you can beat your enemies. Joseph forgave his brothers so you don’t need to live with that sibling rivalry. And look at the book of Ruth, what a beautiful story of Romance.
No, David was not mainly an Ultimate Street Fighter, Joseph did not make a guest appearance on Dr Phil, nor was Ruth a version of the Bachelor. To quote Jared Wilson in Gospel Wakefulness, “Christians notice in the Scriptures . . . that Jesus is all over the place, including the Old Testament.” Jesus explained to His disciples in Luke 24:44-48 that all the Old Testament teaches us about Christ’s work, while Paul reminded us in I Corinthians 15 that the “of first importance” gospel means Christ died for our sins and was buried “according to the Scriptures,” and that He rose again “according to the Scriptures.” in Hebrews and truly across the New Testament we see again and again how the Bible has one fundamental message of redemption.
That leads to some exciting news. Crossway Publishers, who gave us the ESV Bible are teaming with the folks who produced The Story (spreadtruth.com and viewthestory.com) to prepare The Story ESV Bible. This Bible will be available at modest cost and will include The Story booklet in the beginning. But here is the greatest part: a team of pastors and educators are writing a brief introduction to each book of the Bible which explains how that specific book helps to tell the great story of Redemption (Creation, Fall, Rescue, Restoration). So your students and families, new believers and unbelievers can read the Scriptures and see the Bible is not mainly a book of advice or a reference book, but is The Story that explains reality in its vastness and our story in context.
Editors for the work are Dane Ortlund of Crossway, J.D. Bridges of Spread Truth Ministries which produces The Story, George Robinson and Alvin Reid of SEBTS. Contributors include SEBTS president Danny Akin; Scott Anderson of Desiring God; Jerome Gay, founding pastor of Vision Church; J.D. Greear, lead pastor of Summit Church; Jonathan Leeman of 9 Marks, Tracy McKenzie, Tony Merida, and Ben Merkle of SEBTS; Russ Moore of SBTS; Dane Ortlund of Crossway; Burke Parsons, associate pastor of St Andrew’s Church; Darrin Patrick, founding pastor of Journey Church; David Platt, pastor of Church of Brook Hills; Alvin Reid, George Robinson, and Heath Thomas of SEBTS; Scott Thomas, Acts29 president; Joe Thorn, pastor of Redeemer Fellowship; David Wheeler of Liberty University; and Jared Wilson of Middletown Springs Community Church.
This Bible will be available at excellent cost in bulk and will be perfect for Scripture distribution, discipleship and evangelism training, and for new believers as they grow. It will be a marvelous tool for helping unchurched and dechurched to study the Scriptures with you or alone to see more clearly the great love of God shown in Christ throughout the Bible. It will be available late 2012 or early 2013.
As Mark Liederbach recently said in chapel: the Bible is not mainly a book about morality, it is a book about reality. May we be increasingly effective in helping people see the wonder of the reality of the gospel.