The Drama is True
Last week I began to talk about the drama of redemption. In the contemporary church talking about "drama" and "story" are all the rage. We like to talk about finding our story or what the drama of Scripture is saying. However, so often that is where we end. We go no further than to tell the story. Yet, if we stop there, we miss something important. We miss the fact that the drama of redemption is pivotal because the drama of redemption is true. Its truth leads us to make certain doctrinal or dogmatic claims. (Before I say much more, I need to admit that I am using a structure that I really appreciate from Michael Horton. He argues for a fourfold understanding of Christianity that goes from Drama to Doctrine to Doxology to Discipleship. It seems to be a helpful pedagogical tool. You can read about it in his book Core Christianity.)
I love the quote from B.B. Warfield:
What Christianity consists in is facts that are doctrines, and doctrines that are facts. Just because it is a true religion, which offers to a man a real redemption that was really wrought out in history, its facts and doctrines entirely coalesce. All its facts are doctrines and all its doctrines are facts.
What Warfield is getting at is that the drama of redemption leads to necessary doctrinal assertions. God has acted in history. This is what the script (read Scripture) tells us. However, the Bible does not just give us the acts of God in history. It also tells us how to interpret those acts. The Bible both tells us the drama and what the drama means. So as we read Scripture we learn that God is loving and compassionate, merciful and all powerful. The Scriptures tell us that God created us and they tell us who we are; namely created in the image of God yet fallen sinners. It tells us that we have rebelled against our Father for no good reason. Nevertheless God has come to rescue us from our treason. He has come to justify and adopt us as his children. It tells us that the end of the drama is the restoration of all things. All of these doctrines arise out of the drama. They are interpreted for us in the drama. The drama gives rise to doctrines.
It is fascinating to me that so often when talking about doctrine, I see people's eyes glaze over. I hear people say that they just want to hear the story of God's love. All they know is that Jesus loves them. They tell me that they have no interest in doctrine. However, the truth of the matter is that they live by doctrines every day. There are rules and beliefs that they "know must be true." They live by those rules and beliefs unquestioningly (or perhaps better said un-thoughtfully). Yet more frequently than not, those doctrines are connected to the drama that the world is telling them, and the world is telling them a false story.
How do we counter those false doctrines? Do we sit people down and make them memorize a catechism? Well, the answer is partly yes. But we must do so much more than that. Our doctrines are boring because we fail to connect our doctrines to the drama. The doctrines give us the correct understanding of how this world works because our drama is true. When we look at Scripture, what we see is the writers laying out doctrines, but all of those doctrines are connected to the great work of redemption. The New Testament writers in particular point us back to the fact that our time only makes sense in so much as we connect it to the central moment in history; the death and resurrection of Christ. Our doctrines only have life in so much as we connect them back to the drama of redemption.
The power of the Gospel is that it is true. It is the story that makes sense of all other stories. It is the story that interprets all other stories. Christianity's facts are its doctrines and its doctrines are its facts.
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