“In Story as Torah Gordon Wenham showed how biblical narrative texts little used by ethicists, can inform Christian moral teaching.” John Barton, University of Oxford.
In other words, the man has written a book in which he uses the Bible “stories,” as we are prone to call them, to teach us right and wrong. First, I do understand that the word “inform” has a special meaning in scholarly circles, but it still seems plain to me that the critic is saying that using the Bible this way is highly unusual, in fact, a groundbreaking idea.
I sit here wondering why they are reading their Bibles at all if they have not figured this out before. We do this every Sunday in Bible classes. I did it every day when my children were growing up. I do it now when my grandsons come for a visit. We talk about the Bible narratives and how they teach us we should be behaving in our lives. We talk about Noah and how “everyone is doing it,” proves that “it” is probably wrong. We talk about Daniel and how important prayer is, and how God takes care of the faithful. We talk about Elijah and the One True God. We talk about Judas and betrayal, about Peter and impetuosity—and then forgiveness. We talk about Jonah and God’s love for everyone and our responsibility to share that love. My children grew up knowing what the Bible is for. What in the world did these people think they should do with it?
And we can laugh at them and think ourselves so much better than they, but are we? We know the Bible is to be used to “inform” our lives, but does it? Does the sermon go in one ear and out the other? Do the Bible classes become exercises in finding yet another way to bring up my pet hobby, or to show everyone how much I know instead of finding something I need to improve on? Do I give the right answers and then go out and live the wrong ones?
Before we laugh at men who have become a little too smart for their own good, let’s check our own behavior. We may know better, but are we doing it?
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come, 1Cor 10:6-11.