Live a New Story

When the news broke of the shooting in Orlando, we had been working to refine a final post for Part 4 of our Discovering the Story series. In this final post we would have drawn together several of the parallels between Genesis 1 and Revelation 21–22:5 and summarized them into a few points. In case you would like to see those points, here they are: 

  1. The Bible is a story of God on mission from creation to new creation

  2. In this story, we are not returning to Eden but moving beyond it  

  3. God is making things new right now, where we are, through us 

As a Bible nerd, I (Mark Catlin) find these points to be rather exciting, fresh, and invigorating as a way to think about and read the Bible. Yet, in the wake of Orlando and other recent news, I found myself wondering, “Who cares?” Great, new insights into the unity of the Bible. And how is any of that relevant to the mass murders we’ve experienced around the world? Does reading the Bible as a story of new creation actually make the Bible relevant, or is it just some old story, completely unrelated to the events of our time? A relic from the past that is fun to read because it shows us how some people used to think? Perhaps the story of Scripture made sense in days gone by, but times have changed and we need to adjust. We find ourselves reaching for something to make sense of our world, but the old Bible stories just don’t cut it any more. They don’t answer our questions. They don’t serve our needs. They don’t heal our pain. 

So, when we ask, “Is the Bible relevant?” we are not simply asking about style of worship, what translation of the Bible to use, or what we should wear on Sundays. If the biblical story has nothing to say in the way of guiding a response to and ministry within the events of Orlando and others that constantly come across our newsfeed, or invade our own lives, then the Bible is not worth reading. If the God who raised Jesus from the dead cannot speak hope into the death of those created in his image, then he may have been the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he is not the God of those living today. To us, this is a legitimate concern not easily brushed aside with a wave of the hand. Concerns of relevance are not trivial matters—they are essential.  

As a theological think tank our goal is not simply to write white papers and think well about theology, although thinking well is surely a good thing.  Our tagline is “live a new story.” In the midst of this world's worn out story of death and terror, we do not want simply to think about a new story, blog a new story, discuss a new story, post a new story, or tweet a new storyWe are a community of people living in the same broken world as everyone else and we long to live a new story. We believe this is possible because we believe that God is making all things new right now where we are as he gathers a people to himself, renews them by his presence, and sends them out for mission. And we believe this story of gather-renew-send is the story of hope we need today.  

Over the next week, we will put up several blog posts that discuss the relevance of the biblical story by viewing our story (or stories) within the larger biblical narrative. We invite you to join us as we discover the biblical story's potential relevance for our questions, our needs, and our pain. We pray that it might bring us hope, that it might renew our imaginations for what is possible, and that it might encourage us to live a new story.

Mark Catlin