The Bible: Story or List of Doctrines?
By Dr. Brad Cole
The Bible is often read as a book that provides a compilation of doctrines – – do this and don’t do this. Reading the Bible in this way can easily become a process of trying to make an air tight list of the “right” verses (called “key texts”) that support this or that belief system.
The problem is that this doesn’t actually work. In fact, no one that I have ever known actually follows many of the clear Bible statements about “do’s and don’ts.” For example, Paul seemed to make very clear statements about women wearing a head covering and even that it is a shameful things for a women to speak in church. Why don’t we follow this advice? Jesus told a man to sell everything he had and to give it to the poor. Shouldn’t we do the same? What about the Old Testament commands that Sabbath breakers and gluttonous children should be stoned to death? Should we make a doctrine out of the proverb that “Alcohol is for people who are dying, for those who are in misery. Let them drink and forget their poverty and unhappiness” (Proverbs 31:6,7)?
Another way of reading the Bible is as a story that reveals God as meeting people where they are at various times in history. The overall purpose of the story is to reveal God to us. Do we find God to be trustworthy, faithful, dependable and reliable? This story climaxes, of course, with God becoming a member of the human race – born as a baby into a poor family, living the life of a humble carpenter, healing, telling stories, caring for the social outcasts, and finally allowing his own creatures to crucify him. Now do we find God to be trustworthy, faithful, dependable and reliable? The Bible comes alive when it is read in that way.
The New Zealand Book Council made this video to illustrate a book “coming alive” – perhaps we should give the Bible another read as well: