The Bible: More Than Stories
I am often hearing people say these days that God has revealed himself to us in stories, and that story, not doctrine, is the framework in which we should see our faith.
I LOVE story (which is why I’ve written and enjoyed fiction and also love good biographies). However, story is NOT everything. There is also revealed propositional truth and many other forms of communication God has taken with us in his Word.
I love this blog from John Piper on this very subject. It’s not long so I’ll take the liberty of quoting it in its entirety, but I very much encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Desiring God blog it comes from, one of my favorites.
The Bible Frees Us From Being Swayed by Overstatements
By John Piper
Being convinced that the Bible as we have it is God’s choice for the world is pervasively decisive in how we think about a thousand things.
I’m not referring only to what the Bible teaches on a thousand things, but also what kinds of writing the Bible is made up of, and the fact that it is writing at all.
It makes a huge difference in how you think about reading and education if you are convinced that God thought it was good to communicate with the world through a book. There are dozens of foolish ideas about education that we will be protected from by simply thinking God was wise in using a book.
And it makes a huge difference in how you think about many things if you are convinced that God thought the world should have a book that contains
- fact-laden narrative history,
- poetry (lots of poetry)
- stories (lots of stories)
- seraphic prophecy like Isaiah 40-66
- logically constructed, doctrinally dense letters like Romans,
- repetitive, spiraling letters like 1 John, and
- symbol-laden prophetic books like Revelation.
For example, if someone starts to overstate the case for “story” and says that the “real” way to communicate God’s truth is in “story,” implying that the other ways are “less real” and marginal, we will be protected from that sort of thing because we are convinced that God thought the tightly argued, doctrinal book of Romans was a very good idea for the world to have.Photo by Lubomyr Myronyuk on Unsplash
Or, on the other hand, if someone starts to overstate the case of doctrinal exposition to the exclusion and minimization of story and poetry, we will be protected from that sort of thing, because we are convinced that God thought it wise to put two-thirds of the Old Testament in poetry and fill it up with stories.
It is a great liberation to take the Bible—all of it, and as we have it—very seriously.