We’re always being told a story. When we read a billboard beside the highway or listen to a commercial on the television, we’re being told a story. When we watch the news we’re being told a story. When our parents explain our family history, we’re being told a story. And these stories that we are constantly being told actually define reality. The billboard is saying us that if we buy a certain product we’ll be happy. The news is telling us that we need to see the events of the world in a certain way. Our family stories give us a framework for who we are. Stories are literally everywhere!
Recently, I met an author who is writing a book discussing this principle. He discovered that we learn the rules of life from children’s bedtime stories. If he is right (I think he is), then the question is not whether or not we learn how to live from stories, but what we learn. This means that the stories we learn as children, are actually teaching us the principles that we will live by as adults. (This is an interesting concept to think about as today’s children’s stories are told in now being told in comic books, movies, video games, and television. Now I am not condemning any of these mediums, but what stories are being told there?
It is in this light that we read the Biblical text. Notice how very little of our Scripture is written in the imperative (You do this); instead it is poetry, narrative, and correspondence. The Bible is really a story! When we understand the text is not a manual for life – but a collection of writings teaching us the true story – do we truly understand the nature of the Scriptures.
Since the Bible is story - and stories are open-ended - we realize that it demands interpretation and it should be understood not to have meaning outside of its interpretation. Bible study then determines to understand the story, giving context for interpretation. This interpretation is called theology, as it is the explanation of the story. Preaching takes this interpretation and presents application for the hearer of the word. Thus the task then of Biblical scholars, theologians, and preachers is to research the story, interpret the story, and then apply the story to our world.
The question is what story is the Bible teaching us?
(for my take, check out Story pt. 3)
What do you think?