The manner in which one reads the Bible will shape his understanding of the gospel message. For instance, if he reads the Bible diachronically, along the timeline of the Bible, he begins to understand the gospel as set within the framework of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. However, if he reads the Bible synchronically, isolating themes to see what God says about different theological topics, the gospel is then understood under such categories as God, sin, Christ and faith. The following three posts will explore the content of the gospel message by reading the Bible both diachronically and synchronically. Evaluated this way, we will see that the gospel message is understood within the forms of both story and doctrine.*
Seeing the Gospel with Two Lenses
The Bible contains both examples of reading and seeing the gospel—diachronically and synchronically. When one reads the Bible diachronically, he sees the gospel with a wide-angle lens. This enables him to see the gospel as essentially a story of redemption God has written from eternity, within the pages of inspired Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation), and in the lives of everyday people—until the day Jesus returns to consummate his story. However, when one reads the Bible synchronically, he sees the gospel with a narrow-angle lens. Read this way, he sees the gospel comprised as a set of doctrines (e.g., election, atonement, regeneration, justification, adoption, faith and repentance), mostly organized by biblical propositions. It is vitally important that one carefully evaluates the manner in which he reads the Bible, for the sake of seeing the gospel rightly, that he might proclaim and live the gospel effectively. One way of reading is not more right than the other. However, only when having read the Bible through a wide-angle lens—in its full breadth, for example, can one more fully understand and see the gospel in its depth when reading the Bible through a narrow-angle lens.
Note: This series of posts was largely inspired by Porterbrook’s booklet, “Evangelism.”