The Bible in Stereo

By Steve Lloyd

In my early teens, my parents bought me a stereo. The speakers were on a hinge that allowed you to detach them from the base of the set. The wire was long enough to permit you to set the speakers away from the base for the maximum stereo effect. It came with a demo record—remember those round thin black disks. Just checking. 

First, you could hear the voice of the announcer coming out of the left speaker, and then the right. Out of the left speaker, he said, “You…”, and then from the right speaker, “…ain’t…” and then the left, “…heard…” then the right, “…nothing…” then the left, “…yet.” “You…ain’t…heard…nothing…yet.” We played that demo for everyone who came into the house.

As you can imagine, the stereo would not have worked the way it was supposed to, if one of the speakers was turned off. All I would have heard was, “You…heard…yet,” or if the other speaker had been turned off, I would have only heard, “…ain’t…nothing.” That wouldn’t do at all.

Reading the Bible is like that for some of us. One of the speakers is turned off (or at least turned way down), and with that speaker off, we engage in a distorted hearing of the Bible. The speaker that is “On” has been telling us that the Bible is divided into two covenants. That’s true, but…” Over the years, I have noticed that hearing this message over and over again, has distorted our thinking about the value of the Old Testament.

Consider how the idea that there are two covenants that make up the Bible, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, has played out in our attitudes toward the Old Testament. “We are no longer under that covenant, so what is it’s importance to us?” You may be enlightened enough to say, “Why that is absurd?” But I recall, in my youth, thinking this very thing. This reasoning sounded good to me because it reduced the amount I would need to read by about two-thirds. Not to mention the fact that I was a slow reader and even slower to comprehend.

The speaker that needs to be turned on is the story dimension of the Bible. There are a variety of useful books on this subject arguing that the Bible, when viewed from the story dimension, can be broken down into 6 Acts:

Act 1: The Story of Creation
Act 2: The Story of the Fall
Act 3: The Story of Israel
Act 4: The Story of Jesus
Act 5: The Story of the Church
Act 6: The Return of the King

For over seven years now, I have been working on a book titled, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the Story of the Bible. Mark Noll, a church historian, wrote a book titled, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in Church History, which provoked me to think of the story the Bible and what it tells from the same vantage point. I have come up with a dozen such turning points.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not saying that the first speaker (the two covenants aspect) should be turned down any more than I am suggesting that the other speaker (the story dimension) be cranked up to drown out the first speaker. I am suggesting that both speakers, like a stereo, need to be on in order to hear the whole “song.”

In upcoming articles, I would like to explore some of the advantages of viewing the Bible from the story dimension.

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