Journey: Seeing the Bigger Picture

Read:  In Over Our Heads

One of the things I like most about Brian McLaren is that he makes me think, without ever demanding that I agree with him–which, ironically makes me more likely to agree with him.  But even when I don’t, I do not feel judged the way I do when I read or relate to those who position themselves as so “right” that anything other than agreement is “wrong.”

I start in this way this week because I have not studied the role of stories in ancient cultures enough to be able to track his presentation as carefully as I would like.  Like McLaren, I have struggled with God and God’s actions in some of the Old Testament narratives–and I (again, like McLaren) have done so as early as the Great Flood story, especially (as both Genesis and McLaren note) that it does not solve the problem of sin in the human race.  Hmmm.

But rather than try and make all this fit together and make perfect sense, and do so in the span of one chapter of the book, I take away the importance of reading Scripture in order to get the Bigger Picture that may not emerge in respective details.

For example, why does God send a flood to deal with a problem the flood itself does not solve?  Even Genesis doesn’t tell us, so I surely don’t require McLaren or myself to know.  Instead, I think McLaren leaves us facing in the right direction this week–facing in the direction of a God who takes sin seriously, deals with it decisively, but does so with the last word being “redemptively.”  Even when we cannot make sense of some details, these ancient stories tell us that God is always at work to effect goodness (as per the repeated word in Genesis1) on the earth.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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