McKnight’s Meta-Narrative Mandate

Today, my church community invited professor and author Scot McKnight to speak to a group of area pastors for further ministry development.  From his book The Blue Parakeet, he described, in his opinion, the five current approaches in which people read the Bible (NOTE:  Each of these approaches are rooted in truth, however, can be very dangerous when they become our prominent method in reading Scripture).

  1. Those that read the Bible as a LAW book. People who see every passage as a law and see God solely as a “law-giver.”  They tend to exclude God’s grace, becoming legalistic and judgmental.
  2. Those that read the Bible seeking BLESSINGS & PROMISES: People who approach scripture looking for only blessings and promises, feeling the Christian life is all about God’s favor while losing touch with the reality of tragedy and unanswered questions.
  3. Those that read the Bible by PROJECTING their own ideas and interpretations onto the Bible. They project who we are and what we want out of the Bible, seeking to “transform Christ into our own image.”
  4. Those that read the Bible like it is a PUZZLE to be figured out. These readers believe that God scattered key propositions throughout the scripture that we have to find out to know His true desires.  Eugene Peterson says that these people destroy the discovery of the Bible because they already know what they believe, avoiding any passages that don’t fit within their systematic grid.
  5. Those that read only the MAESTROS of the Bible. These readers filter everything through their main author.  Whether it is placing everything through the grid of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount or Paul’s book of Romans, if this imbalance carries on too long, Jesus will begin to look fuzzy.

Overall McKnight believes that we have to go back and see the Bible more holistically, embracing the unity of the plot and narrative pointing towards Christ.  Yes, we have all been guilty of overemphasizing one of the above images, and to help bring us back to balance, McKnight calls for us to get back to simply reading the Bible from start to finish…like a STORY it was meant to be.

In seeing every author with it’s own perspective and version of The Story, we must step back and see it as a whole, unraveling this four-act play:  1) We are created as icons to “image God”, 2) We are cracked icons positioned for God’s mission of redemption, 3) We are a covenanted community of icons by which God will seek to bless the world through, 4) Jesus is the icon, and we are being remade daily by the Spirit to shape us from cracked to glowing icons.

So, of the five approaches, where are you most guilty?  Would you add any others to the list?  How do these approaches surface in how one preaches or teaches The Bible?

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~ by Dave Smith on September 14, 2009.

7 Responses to “McKnight’s Meta-Narrative Mandate”

  1. Good blog post! Almost as good as mine! 😉

    I think that I tend too heavily toward Maestro – it is a constant struggle to keep the whole of the biblical story in view, and listening to ALL of the voices instead of filtering it all through just one.

  2. Related to “puzzle”, but going in a different direction….always peeling back the layers of the text (which are often there, and often interesting), but glossing past the main, obvious points

  3. Dang Bob! Yours is very thorough! Did you do that during the talk? Nicely done!!!

    Yea, I am more of a “Projector” something trying to get my agenda across the text versus the text standing on it own merit.

    I think this sometimes surfaces in how I teach with occasional proof-texting.

  4. Those that read the Bible by PROJECTING their own ideas and interpretations onto the Bible. They project who we are and what we want out of the Bible, seeking to “transform Christ into our own image.”

    In my personal opinion, the bible isn’t valuable unless it is interpreted so that it means something today, transforms my community, and enriches my faith.

    One cannot read the bible without simultaneously interpreting it — and that is not a bad thing. We don’t twist Chris into our own image in the process; on the contrary, that is precisely how the Spirit transforms us into Christ’s image.

    So, obviously I’m guilty of projecting, but I don’t see any other way to go about reading the bible.

  5. Yea, I see what you are saying.

    Scot was clear that none of these are necessarily bad at their core…but can just become dangerous if they are our main approach to scripture.

    You are right that we all come with an inevitable projecting approach…but the danger would be in saying The Bible solely supports the Republican Party or War based on how you strain if through your presupposed filter.

    • but the danger would be in saying The Bible solely supports the Republican Party or War based on how you strain if through your presupposed filter.

      But the bible does support the R’s, Dave. Way too much heresy around here lately …

      But I hear what you’re saying as the appropriate counterpoint to what I’m saying. I know what you mean …

  6. And for a Princeton guy to say there is too much heresy is really saying something. Now I am concerned! 🙂

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