Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quick Review of Welcome to the Story by Stephen J. Nichols

In his book Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus Bill Clem shares an analogy where he compares three drama students starring in a play they perform in their garage with a drama student auditioning for a small part in a Broadway play in New York.  The difference between the two scenarios is the one student even with a walk-on part being part of something huge.  The other students are delusional “believing their vision of the way things could be is the way things actually are”.  He compares this analogy to the difference between inviting God into our little stories or being offered whatever role in God’s epic unfolding drama.  Clem says,

Our personal story is actually a distortion of reality and a desire for significance.  God’s story is reality, and significance can be ours with even a walk-on bit part, because pleasing and glorifying the Creator is the most significant experience offered to created beings.  (Clem, Disciple, 15)

It’s not only our personal stories that can be distortions of reality.  Our reading and understanding of Scripture can suffer from the same distortion.  Yes, God’s story is about us.  It is about our creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  but that is our part in the story.  More than our story the Bible is the story of God and we play bit-part’s in it. 

Stephen J. Nichols has written Welcome to the Story with the hopes of inviting readers to “enter in, to participate in, the story of the Bible”.  Nichols traces the Bible’s plotline of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration, then he starts teaching a street-level hermeneutics course. 

That’s really what this book is: a street-level hermeneutics course.  I have been looking for this book for quite some time.  I love Goldsworthy’s books outlining God’s story.  I found a good amount of help from Vaughn Roberts’ God’s Big Picture.  I found Dr. Wellum’s hermeneutics class immensely helpful.  Furthermore, works like Stephen Dempster’s Dominion and Dynasty and Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God helped to open my eyes to seeing the big picture of God’s story.  But up until this book by Nichols nothing seemed to translate into the pew. 

Now I finally have something that I can give curious members of my church.  Now there is something that we could use as a small group study to teach the storyline of the Bible in an engaging way.  Now there is something that I can use as an introduction to biblical theology with young men that I train for ministry. 

I share Tom Schreiner’s enthusiasm for the book when he says,

Nichols has written a delightful and inviting book on how to understand and live out the Bible.  The storyline of Scripture is sketched in, and the book is full of wise advice on how to read and live out what God requires.  I recommend the book with enthusiasm.

There is enough in here to teach a seminary level course but it’s written in such a way that the average Bible reader would be able to understand the concepts.  As I read through the book I found myself engaged, helped, and at the end I finally realized what Nichols had done.  I thought to myself after finishing the book, “He just taught a hermeneutics course, oh my goodness, how did he do that?!?!” 

This book is very helpful.  No matter what your level of Bible reading this book belongs in your library.  For only 10.81 you can treat yourself to an engaging seminary course that you won’t even notice is a seminary course.  Buy it today!

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