[Note: I have realized that our meditations are not in sync with McLaren’s envisioned plan to read Chapter 14 the first week of Advent. So, as a way to achieve that synchronization, I am skipping Chapters 9, 10, and 11–and moving us to Chapter 12 today.]
Read: “Stories That Shape Us”
When I began this book, I wondered how McLaren could possibly cover the time before Jesus in thirteen chapters, but I intentionally did not read ahead and try to find out prematurely. I figured the answer would emerge from following the journey week after week, and so it has.
After rooting us in the creation reality and the early Old Testament story, McLaren moves from history to hermeneutics–from simply recounting the centuries leading up to the birth of Jesus and drawing transferable concepts from them, to teaching us how to encounter the rest of the Old Testament with benefit.
And in this week’s chapter, McLaren says we need three elements to continue reading the Old Testament, and the rest of the Bible for that matter: science, art, and heart. Science stands for observation. Art stands for interpretation. And heart stands for formation.
In other words, we must first be sure we have studied a passage well. Then, we must take from it a meaning larger than the historical/literary account itself. And finally, we must receive that larger message as a mandate to live faithfully in our time.
In this way, we remain alive in the creation (McLaren’s first section and emphasis), which means being alive in the realities of revelation rather than in some vague attempt to spiritualize everything. Creation (the tangible story and text) is the stuff out which faith is made. In this way, McLaren can declare that these are the stories that shape us.