God's Grand Story
by James Wakefield, PhD

Telling God's Grand Story

You are invited. Please join me in a conversation. We didn’t start it. It has been going on for many thousands of years. It circles around some big ideas, posed here as questions: Is there any good news? What is it? How do we gospel people faithfully? Let’s focus this: How do we tell God’s Grand Story to our families, friends, neighbors, and even to those who care nothing for us at all or for God?
One goal of this website is to further this conversation. Let’s be respectful. But let’s also keep it real. A second goal is to ask for help. I’m moving forward in keeping my promise to write a book about telling God’s Grand Story. How can you help? I don’t want to do something this awesome alone. I need company, friends and critics who can speak the truth in love. Help me make this useful. Keep me from too many errors and idiosyncrasies. Join me in sharing good news with our world.

Returning to Story (Part 2)

So I’m wondering if you thought about the story you were given. We might ask lots of questions here: How is that working for you? Who gave it to you? How soon did you get it? Do you know how it ends? Is it bent?

 If you read the “Introduction” to the book (you can find it to the right of this blog on at www.godsgrandstory.com), you will understand this last question. “Bent” is C.S. Lewis’ word to describe what happened when the first humans disobeyed God. Our very natures —all that we are— were somehow “bent.” And we cannot straighten ourselves out. This really shows itself in the second century.
 People started using the story of Jesus for their own purposes. They wrote or edited their own version of the story and used these false gospels to control and manipulate other people. I’m not saying all of them were malicious, but many of them were. Marcion — a wealthy ship owner in Rome serves as an interesting example of this. Before the year 140, he trashed the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and John. He revised the Gospel of Luke and many of Paul’s letters. How? He tried to strip any Jewish influence out of the story of Jesus. Why? He hated the god of the Old Testament. Again, why? Because this god wasn’t afraid to be involved in material substance. Yikes! What’s up with Marcion? 

 The prevailing worldview of sophisticated people in the early second was dominated by the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato’s ideas had been modified in the more than 400 years since his death into a way of thinking, a way of seeing the world, sometimes called “Middle Stoicism.” Part of the story told by Plato was that the material world is evil. He believed that “the body is the prison of the soul” (Phaedo 62b). It seems that Marcion grabbed hold of some of these ideas and reasoned that if physical matter, and the body are evil, then any god who created them must also be evil. 

 I won’t go into detail about how this twisted the whole storyline, but ask these questions with me: If the god of the Old Testament is evil, where did Jesus come from? And if matter is evil, could Jesus have had a body? If Jesus didn’t have a body, then how could he help those of us who do? And why would he even want to? 

 I’ll say a little about how folks responded to Marcion and his bent version of the story in my next blog. But can I ask this question again: Did you get the right story?


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