Scot McKnight’s excellent book The Blue Parakeet next addresses the question of what the Bible is. His point is that the way in which we approach the Bible deeply affects the truth that we draw from it. This section on The Bible as Story begins with a reminder from scripture as to the way that God speaks to His people in different ages:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Heb 1:1-2)
Chapter 3 opens with a deliciously applicable illustration. The image below is an autostereogram. When you first look at the picture you see the obvious repetitive abstract pattern. Kind of fall-like, maybe some maple leaves at the bottom.
Now, press your nose against your monitor and slowly let your eyes adjust to the picture. As you slowly move away from the image, the picture in the picture begins to emerge. Do you see it? The bird, the donut? It’s easier for some than others but if you scan the web you can find dozens of these kinds of images.
What does this have to do with the Bible? In order for God’s word to take its full three-dimensional presence in our lives, we need to adjust our reading methods so that the picture in the picture reveals itself to us. Just the like the bird in the image seems to become a part of our plane of existence, so God wants to have his words move into our immediate experience.
Reading the Bible as story is what will allows the Spirit to move in this way in our lives. The challenge to us is that we must put away our shortcuts as they tend to obscure the story in favor of deriving other kinds of information. Do any of these hit home with you?
Morsels of Law
We read the Bible strictly as a huge collection of laws. God is portrayed as the impatient and irritable giver of laws and we are judged by how many of these laws we follow and how closely. Our relationship is then defined by how good as citizens we are.
Morsels of Blessing and Promise
If this is our shortcut we read the Bible as a collection of blessings and promise. The tendency here is to pull promising verses out of their context while ignoring the others. The sense of the Christian life that develops from this practice is that it is all good with no troubles clouding the horizon.
Mirrors and Inkblots
We’ve all seen the inkblot cards used in psychological tests. Splat! What do you see? Spronk! Now what do you see? The point is that you will see what you want to see. When you encounter Jesus in the Bible your mind sees someone a lot like you. He thinks and acts the way that you would. It’s amazing…until I talk to you and find out Jesus is more like you! How can this be.
Puzzling Together the Pieces to Map God’s Mind
The Bible is a puzzle that we are challenged to put together. The trouble we run into is that, unlike the boxed puzzle, we don’t have the picture on the lid to help us assemble the thousands of pieces. Without that picture, we have to rely on our imagination and anything that doesn’t fit goes back into the box.
Reading to find the maestro answers the question, What Would Jesus Do? If he is the master, all we have to do is to imitate this model of perfection and all will be well.
These are all snapshots that give us an incomplete view of the Bible and the story that God wants to envelope us in. Do you agree with these shortcut descriptions. Is there another that was missed?