The simple things you see are all complicated

OK. Here comes a rant.

Well, I'll try not to rant.

I think there's a great temptation, trend and desire to simplify things that are actually much richer and more complex than we want to make them, and I think that this oversimplification applies in various areas of life and thought at present.

Biblical theology

In finding the overarching story, the metanarrative of the Bible, pretty well everyone is agreed that the key is Christ.

But how does this work out?

A couple years back a group of us were meeting up to discuss a bible overview book that focused on God's covenants as the metanarrative that points to Christ. I compared this with the other great trend that sees kingdom as the overarching story - God's people, in God's place, under God's king.

OK. But where do temple, priesthood, sacrifice, prophetism, etc, come into these schemas?

Perhaps it is time to recollect another style of Biblical theology that takes covenants, Kingdom and adds them to a rich palette of promise and fulfilment, type and anti-type, shadow and reality, that copes well with the temple theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation, with priesthood and prophetism, with the range of presentations of Christ that we find in the Bible.

When we oversimplify we impoverish ourselves and make everything bland, like living on a diet of rice.


In the same way there's a silent discussion going on about how God makes his people holy. Some focus on the role of the truth of the gospel on our thought-patterns. It's a case of applying gospel-truth to your heart and changing the way you think and behave.

Well yes, but what if the toolbox God uses to make us holy has this at its heart, but also includes other factors? Sinclair Ferguson , in a long article on the Union website here unfolds our sanctification focused and centred on our union with Christ and speaks of the wide range of ways in which God makes us holy, including "providences", the things that come into our lives, the fellowship of the church and the sacraments.

I think these silent discussions are interesting. We're having another on the charismatic (non-)issue. We have decided that continuationism or cessationism is a non-issue. But it isn't. Or again, the question of forms of worship, from the neo-liturgists through to the new standard model of 1/2 hour singing, 1/2 hour preaching ("There was a worship war, the pentecostals won and we all got the victory" is the way one man put it).

It's as if we are tired of discussing things, so we try to pare everything down and make it as simple as possible. Maybe it's part of the current trend for decluttering and for minimalism.

But as we throw out the simple, soapy bathwater, let's keep our grip on the slippery, moving, complex things that is the baby.


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