As I journey toward my goal of Fifty-Two books this year, I stumbled across a title in my library’s audio book section. I hadn’t heard anything of this book and was overall pretty impressed by the spin Rachel Evans places on the way we approach the text of the Bible. Her basic premise is that we all approach the Bible with a fixed set of life circumstances and presuppositions. While these presuppositions don’t change the text of God’s word to us, they definitely change how we see this message.
Have you ever read the bible and realized that you saw something brand new? Well this is the idea she’s getting across in Inspired. When we understand who we are and what our life situation is, we’re more prepared to approach the text of the Bible with a clear mind and better sense of understanding.
Another aspect of our Biblically illiterate society that she brings forth is that we like to cut and paste from the Bible too much. Evans asserts that we find key verses and pull them off the pages of the Bible with no regard to the context into which the verse was written. We neglect the textual context, the verses immediately surrounding it. We neglect the context of the book, how this fits the story or point of the overall book in which it’s found. We neglect the story of the bible and how this verse attempts to convey God’s plan for salvation of His people. And we neglect the cultural context, where this verse or message fits into the overall culture of the day.
A final approach Evans brings to the forefront is the power of the Gospel story. She asserts that we pull points out of the gospel and memorize verses from their accounts but this isn’t the true fullness of the gospel. The power of the gospel is the story in which it finds meaning. When we talk about Jesus turning water into wine but fail to show how this fits into God’s redemption plan, it appears that Jesus is just showing off. But what if this and all the stories like it are actually pointing us to see the message of the gospel in a different light?
The gospel, and therefore the message of the entire bible, isn’t merely a bunch of people doing the same things. It’s actually a variety of different people living different lives that are all part of the same story. To better understand who a character is we need to better understand the story and where they fit into it.