Recently I was in a Christian bookstore and saw near the register a large column of books artfully arranged to draw the attention of shoppers. Having done its job of attracting my attention, I picked up one of the books and read the title – The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. I guess I’ve been out of it because even though this book was published in 2011, I had never heard of it. Anyway, I thought, “Hmmmm…. yes, the Bible IS the story of God and His people, but why did they need to write a book reiterating that? Can’t we just read the Bible to get the real story?” Apparently not.
The store employee explained to me that the book was different from the Bible in that the story was arranged chronologically. Okay, I have no problem with a chronological Bible. He went on to explain that it is the chronological story of the Bible written in novel form. Whoaaaahhh. Wait a minute. What?
A novel is defined as “a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.” The Bible is NOT a novel. It is NOT fiction. Men and women write novels. God writes unerring truth. Novels do not have the power to change a life from the slavery of sin to the pursuit of righteousness creating a new creature in Christ. Only the living, breathing Word of God can do that.
A foundational tenant of Christianity is the inerrancy of Scripture. Second Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” In other words, every word in the Bible came from God the Father to God the Holy Spirit to men. These men wrote what the Holy Spirit told them to write. What they wrote were God’s words not their own words. (A wonderful book explaining how books were chosen to be in the canon of Scripture is How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot.) Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” The word “inspired” means God-breathed. God literally breathed out the words of the Bible. It is His Word to us. It is His story.
The title of the book leads one to think that this is another translation or version of the Bible not a novel. I don’t believe that the authors or publishers intended to deceive anyone, but I think it is misleading. And am I the only one who is tired of the dumbing down of Christianity? Everything has to be easy. Everyone wants the Bible CliffsNotes and the short road to holiness. No one wants to put any real effort into knowing God. It makes me think of Hosea 4:6 where God laments to the prophet Hosea that His people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge of who He is and of His Word.
That’s where we are today. Christians would rather read short works of fiction than apply themselves to deep Bible study. That’s just too much effort. The good news for them is that The Story only has 31 chapters instead of 66 books like the real Bible has. Personally, I think if the Bible is God’s letter to us – and it is – and if He wrote 66 books in that letter – which He did – then we should read every one of them. And not just read them. We should study them, meditate on them, and live by them!
Please don’t read The Story to find out what God’s Word says. Read the original, unabridged version called The Holy Bible. (And while we’re on the subject, please don’t read The Shack by William P. Young to understand God’s love for you. You’ll find that in the Bible, too!) Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – can ever replace your own personal discovery of the Scriptures. If you don’t know where to start, then click here for a free download on how to begin to study the Bible for yourself. Also, Precept Ministries has the best Bible studies available for every skill level. Click here to see what they offer.
Books about the Bible are not all bad. However, we should spend way more time reading the Bible itself than we spend reading books about it. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. One of His jobs is to be your Bible teacher (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27). How awesome is that? Become a student of His Word today!