The Drama of Scripture: Finding our Place in the Biblical Storyline
by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen
Summary: Do we look at the Bible as a story? Do we see ourselves as a part of that story? Bartholomew and Goheen (B&G) in The Drama of Scripture provide us with the biblical story of redemption as a unified narrative. They highlight three basic things. First, the comprehensive scope of God’s redemptive work in creation. Second, believers own place in this story. And third, the centrality of mission within the biblical story.
Strengths: B&G do a marvelous job of tying the whole Bible together into a unified story. Many come to the Bible thinking it is disjointed, but B&G show that this story is going somewhere, every part fits together. They see the OT through the window of “covenant” and the NT through the window of “kingdom.” They interact clearly with critical issues surrounding the covenant passages in the OT. They also rightly argue that Christ is coming back to redeem the entire creation, not merely humans. For too long Christians have thought of heaven as somewhere they can escape to. But B&G rightly point out the biblical emphasis on the physical restoration. It was also helpful for B&G to interact with some of the history in the intertestamental period. I personally found this helpful in setting the scene for Christ (but that is b/c it is my first introduction to it). Overall the book was well written and a good introduction to Biblical Theology, especially if you are looking for another book like Graeme Goldsworthy’s According to Plan. But before I stop I must give a couple of warnings.
Warnings: My warnings concern their emphasis. Clearly this book responds to some popular Christian thought, and rightly so. However in doing this, it seems as if they down play the biblical emphasis of mankind being the crown of creation. This is played out in several ways. First there was very little emphasis upon Christ’s atonement for our sins. There was some, but you could tell that they really wanted to talk more about creation than man. Second, with the mission emphasis they seemed to focus heavily on the cultural mandate. Christians are to show the world what Christ’s kingdom will look like. But they had too little emphasis on evangelism. The only way people will ever be a part of the this kingdom is if they repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.
Conclusion: B&G masterfully pulled together all the strings of the Bible into one coherent story. They also biblicaly reacted against the escapist mindset that some Christians have adopted. The bible emphasizes that the coming age will be one of restoration. But in doing so they have pushed the pendulum too far. What we need is a happy medium.