Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Is the Central Unifying Message of the Bible?

 I want to introduce a friend of mine that I've mentioned in my blog before, Demian Farnworth. He has been kind enough to write a guest post. I know you all will enjoy it, and I'll be writing about my mission trip in Oklahoma City real soon. Stay tuned.
**Guest blog by Demian Farnworth from Fallen and Flawed.**

The Bible. It can be one of the most difficult texts you've ever read. But you know what? It doesn't have to be. 

You can learn the the basic point behind the complex message of the Bible… without reading the whole thing.

In fact, I can tell you what it is in three simple words. But you have to promise me something. You have to promise me you’ll dig deeper beyond this simple cheat sheet. 

You have to promise me that you’ll sink some intellectual and emotional capital into reading the Bible. 


Now, a host of suggestions have been made as to what is the central unifying concept that runs through Scripture. Let’s look at several attempts.

Sellin, a German scholar, said the central theme of Scripture is the idea of holiness. There is no doubt that holiness is indeed an important concept. But that's not it. 
Some scholars suggest the central theme is the word “LORD,” the Hebrew word Yahweh—the LORD, the covenant God. While a central theme, were not quite there. 
God elects Abel and Seth over against Cain. He chooses Shem over against the other brothers, Abram out of the many, then Judah, and so on. The principal of election runs right through all of the Scriptures. But it's not the central theme.
From the kingdom of Israel to the kingdom of God, kingdom is a reoccurring concept. But it's not the central unifying concept. There's more. 
God and Community
Others say that what ties Scripture together is that God rules over his community. True, but there's something even more central. 
Still others argue that the Bible is simply a collection of different confessions about who God is. In other words, there is really no unity in God’s revelation. This is wrong. 
Covenant                                                                                                           German Old Testament scholar, Walter Eichrodt, says the theme is covenant. Close, but no cigar. 
No Unifying Theme
And German Lutheran pastor and Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad says that there is simply no unifying theme. Again, an incorrect position.

So, what is the single unifying concept of the Bible. The deal is it's not just one concept--it's three.  

See, the unifying themes of the Bible are covenant, kingdom and mediator. Throughout the Scriptures God makes a covenant with his people to create a kingdom where he will serve as mediator. 

Why is this important to know? If you keep this fact in mind as you go through Scripture, you will understand more readily and easily what God is saying and doing in each text you read.

You'll immediately spot the covenant. Then the kingdom will emerge. And, of course, you'll see the mediator. Not necessarily in that order. But all three are almost always there. 

In addition, as you preach and teach, it's helpful to keep these central concepts in mind and ask yourself, “How does my passage particularly relate to these three themes?” 

This will naturally cause Scripture to come to life. Words will pop off the paper. Pages will zing by. And the stories will carry you up, up and away.

Now, go give it a try like you promised.


Demian Farnworth said...

Thank you for the opportunity to Luke!


Interesting thoughts here. The central theme is what JESUS CHRIST came do accomplish through the will of His Father - who indeed is a covenant God - and desires for us to be restored to Himself in right relationship - so that we may live with Him for all eternity.

Your 3 way theme fits if Christ is at the heart of it all.

Something new that I saw in your description is where you mentioned:
God elects Abel and Seth over against Cain. He chooses Shem over against the other brothers, Abram out of the many, then Judah, and so on. The principal of election runs right through all of the Scriptures."

This was a simple observation that I had not thought about much. People are often 'hung up' on election but it is just how God works and it is consistent with the other characters throughout the Word.

All the things you mentioned as possible themes are really threads woven through life like a tapestry. Some threads are more colorful and stand out more but each is needed for the completed materpiece the Creator is designing... called REDEMPTION!

The Bible is key to our faith. But...
Prayer unlocks the door of its understanding!

Luke - thanks for allowing your guest to post here. You know I'm all about God's TRUTH!

Choosing JOY, Stephanie
JESUS ONLY in 2010

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