The Biblical Narrative

I’m hoping to soon find the time to put up a series of posts that are bit more “communications geek”-ish than most things I post, but for now I wanted to share an extended quote from a radio interview with N.T. Wright on a British show called “Unbelievable” (thanks Jonny for sending the link).

My favourite section was Wright’s response to a question asking how we can move from being on God’s bad side to being on his good side … the response is brilliant:

Part of the trouble is that there’s a massively long Christian tradition … of assuming that the real story that we’re living in is; ‘an angry god – us in trouble – how we get out of that’ … Part of the difficulty with that is that that isn’t, basically, the story the bible is telling. And my commitment … is to scripture and to the actual narrative of scripture rather than the story that we have turned it into.


Now of course wrath is important, of course the question of salvation is important, but the bible is telling a bigger story, which is about God’s creation of a good world and his call of humans to be the ones who look after that good world for him. The problem is that when humans mess up, then God’s purposes for creation are stalled or thwarted and so the story isn’t just about me and how I can find God to be gracious rather than wrathful, the story is about God and about how his purposes can go forward. And since my sin and my failures are part of, in that sense, God’s problem, God wants to deal with that not simply to restore the relationship, but that in order that through the people with whom he is in a restored relationship, his purposes for the world can go forward.


And it seems to me that that’s the biggest sea change that I would challenge today’s Christians to get into their heads and their hearts. And actually, it shouldn’t be difficult because the whole of the bible is about it …


The main thing is that God is the loving, generous creator. And so out of the same love with which he made the world and will ultimately remake it into the new heavens and new earth, God sent Jesus as his act of utter generous love in order to die in our place and on our behalf to redeem us. Not in order that we could then just have a cozy relationship with God, but so that we could then … be created for the good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God wants us to be, not only part of his new world, but agents within that new world. That’s the critical thing.


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