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« Collateral damage | Main | Old hymns »

The Bible in 10 words

In a class called "Teaching the Bible to Youth and Adults" at Campbell University Divinity School, my students were asked to think about the Bible as a metanarrative for understanding our place in the world (one of our textbooks is The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004]). 

Bartholomew and Goheen argue that themes of divine creation, human corruption, and God's ongoing work of redemption permeate the Bible. After showing a humorous video on "The Bible in a Minute," and as a way of getting our heads around the idea of the Bible as a metanarrative, I asked the class to try summarizing the overarching message of the Bible in a half a page.

After that, I asked them to give it another try, this time in ten words or less. Here's what they came up with:

"God had a plan, made man: man rebelled, God redeemed."

"God is. God created. The created fell. God redeemed."

"Creation. Sin. Exile. Chaos. Saviour. Teaching. Crucifixion. Saved."

"God created a good world that messed up and is redeemed by Jesus."

"God is good, humanity is not perfect, Christ redeems. Love God, love others."

"God loves everyone. People sin. Jesus forgives. We get heaven."

"God created that we may live, and sacrificed that we may live eternally."

"Everything is good. Everything goes bad. God's new plan: Jesus."

"God created. Humans sinned. New plan. Jesus saves. Eternal life."

"Creation, fall, birth of Christ, crucifixion, resurrection, transformation, days ahead."

"God built it. We broke it. Jesus fixed it."

An important thing to remember, of course, is that no matter how many words we use to express the biblical message, it is incomplete. While the Bible contains the opening chapters of the story of God and humankind, it is not the end: we're still living out that story, day by day.

What do you think of the students' efforts? The comments box await your contribution!

References (3)

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    The Bible in 10 words - Tony W. Cartledge Blog - Baptists Today, The Source for Daily Baptist News for You and Your Church
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    The Bible in 10 words - Tony W. Cartledge Blog - Baptists Today, The Source for Daily Baptist News for You and Your Church

Reader Comments (5)

I am concerned by the responses that refer to Jesus as a "new plan."

Sep 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Cannon

I am with Paul, I too am concerned with the "new plan" comments. sovereignty of God is questioned by this statements. Hopefully these responses are not the typical teaching from the divinity school.

Sep 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Tant

As one of the students who contributed to this blog, I just want to say that the statements listed in no way represent the position of the entire Divinity School, just as one individual can rarely represent the opinions and beliefs in a group as a whole. One of the goals of theological education (and education in general, really) as a whole and at CU as I understand it is to teach students HOW to think and generate conclusions and not just always WHAT to think. There are some aspects, of course, that require the "what," such as dates and biographical information of individuals, but when it comes to conceptual aspects, in any subject, students are taught to form conclusions based on evidence and to follow a process of thought. I am not one of those who included the concept of Jesus as a "new plan," and I think that the choice of terminology may be misleading. However, I believe that the concept of a "new plan" could come from humanity's observation and not God's; in God's sovereignty He knows His plan. Humanity could also have seen the destruction of earth and all its inhabitants save a few in the great flood as a "new plan," even though it was a part of God's. From humanity's standpoint, Jesus was a new and different "way to go" from allowing us to continue without the redemption of a living sacrifice. I say all of this to say that, taken out of context and examined by itself, almost anything can be misunderstood. The Divinity School at Campbell University encourages examination and reflection, and offers guidance through Biblical and prayerful study and consideration. I hope this is reassuring to you both.

Sep 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA

I did find the exercise useful. Personally I am not as concerned about the words "new plan". My impression is the writers were looking at the whole Biblical history as perceived by God's people, and not as plan formulated by God. God's plan is God's plan. The plan outlined in the Bible, from man's frame of reference, appears to make a change when God accommodates us in a dramatic way through the new covenant in the blood Jesus Christ. This is the new plan I believe they were writing about. I can see both sides. The commenter Paul was concerned that God did not change His plans and the writers of the “10 words” intended to indicate the plan, as understood by Gods people over time, did change.

Sep 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

My 10 words:
"The whole Bible points the way to Jesus the Savior"

Sep 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJust Sayin'

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