Retelling the story – the beginning

The Old Old StoryThe poem, The Old Old Story is on my mind as I think about faithfully explaining the essentials of the Christian story.  Even my choice of “Christian story” instead of gospel, biblical faith, message of Jesus, or some other term reflects a specific decision.  “Story” invites listeners to reflect and enter without necessarily agreeing.  It can sidestep questions and objections in view of continuing with the whole narrative to reach the resolution.  Story is an accessible medium in our culture as movies, books, and television – all forms of story – consume so much of our attention.  And though “story” has its drawbacks it is one of the most accurate means of describing the essential teachings of the bible.  I have been thinking through how to succinctly and accurately tell the biblical story so that it will be understood by those with very little familiarity with the bible and its terms.  The area in which we serve is the least biblically literate in the country and so I need to do my homework.  Here is one of the initial pieces…
1.  A God who is personal (not merely a force) and outside of us (not merely a projection of the self or a specific culture).  These are essential beginning points because many will have a general view of God, thinking of him as some sort of force or rule but not as a person.  Without a personal God though, it is difficult to argue for the meaning of persons, ethics, and choice.  For example, if God is like the force, as in  Star Wars, the force seems indifferent as to whether it is used by Darth Vadar to strangle an impertinent commander or by Luke Skywalker to lift his x-wing from a swamp.  I also try to specify that God is outside of us because it is common to say, “Well, that is nice for you to believe Jarrett, but I like to think of God as…”  The assumption in this statement is that God is not concrete or specific but static to some degree.  If God is a person of some sort there are things that are true about him and things that are not.  Even the analogy of people feeling an elephant in the dark and variously describing the ears, trunk, or legs and disagreeing about the nature of the beast breaks down because there is ultimately an elephant, not a zebra or ocelot.  I know this if a fairly quick foray into the nature and being of God but I think this is a good place to begin a conversation.  We’ll see how it develops.

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