Friday, September 25, 2020

79. Unfolding Grace

Unfolding Grace: 40 Guided Readings Through the Bible. Drew Hunter. Illustrations by Peter Voth. 2020. Crossway. 608 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: We all love epic stories. This is because—most deeply—we are part of one. The Bible tells one overarching narrative, and it is the true story of the world. It is the story of God’s unfolding grace. We are all born into this drama, and it is only as we come to know the story and its Author that we find our true identity and purpose. The Bible came to us over many centuries with many authors and in many different literary genres. Yet every part fits together into a coherent whole.

Unfolding Grace introduces readers to the big picture of the Bible. Crossway has selected 40 daily readings taken directly from the Bible--using the English Standard Version. Each reading highlights three or four--mostly four--consecutive chapters of the Bible. Each daily reading is introduced by Drew Hunter. His words are few--perhaps concise is the better word?--the spotlight remains on the Word of God. But they do serve as a bridge connecting the readings together. 

"The Bible’s opening words direct us to the very beginning of the story of the world. In these first chapters we learn how God creates all things and makes humanity in his image. We learn how he has made us to enjoy his presence and to reflect his goodness by ruling over his world. We learn that originally there was no sin, suffering, or sadness—everything was “very good.” Humanity was in right relationship with God, with one another, and with the creation itself. This is a picture of shalom—peace—universal flourishing, harmony, and happiness. But this story also shows the fall of humanity into sin. As a result of humanity’s rejection of God, the world is now filled with sin, suffering, and death. Life is not the way it is supposed to be. Yet God speaks his word of grace into the midst of our brokenness. He promises that a son of Eve will conquer the Serpent, which signals that God will reverse the consequences of sin and restore blessing to the world. This is the first promise of grace, the promise that unfolds across the Bible’s pages and through history’s ages. The Bible unfolds God’s gracious plan to restore God’s people to God’s place, to enjoy his presence and reflect his rule."

The big picture approach is very bare bones. Missing are many of the most beloved and most significant passages of Scripture. For example, it skips over Genesis 22--when God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, a very telling and prophetic event. And one that is often referred to in the New Testament. Along the same lines, you won't read of the lifting up of the bronze serpent. I suppose both can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Though why they're excluded and yet we get "treated" with Judges 17-21 is beyond me!!! 

What I find more difficult to overlook--as a reader who hasn't had to make this tough call--is the complete and total exclusion of chapters from the book of Psalms, the Gospel of John, or the epistle to the Romans. How does one exclude Romans?!?!?!?! I mean if ANY one book gives a big picture story of the Bible it would be Romans. (Or Hebrews, which is also excluded.) Romans you see man as sinner, God as righteous Creator, Judge, and Savior. It packs a LOT of substance. And is essential to understanding the faith. Rightly interpret the book of Romans and you're on your way. 

For better or worse, this one instead of picking and choosing from the four gospels includes the whole book of Mark. And over half the book of Acts. Seriously. I can't fathom leaving out John 13-17. I can't even. In my opinion, how anyone could choose Mark--probably just because it's short--over another gospel like John or Luke or Matthew. (I mean I understand Matthew is super long and all.) But Luke or John seems a better fit. Perhaps the editor just really, really, really loves Mark?!?! I don't know. Seems strange. 

I do like the inclusion of the whole book of Ephesians. But I still *need* Romans represented somehow, someway.

I read an e-galley of this title. But what video clips I've seen of the book-book make it look premium and gorgeous. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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