Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bible Stories In Reformed Catechesis

As I become more familiar with more Reformed resources in this area, this page is subject to expand.

Teacher's Bible Commentary (2 Vols.)
J. Douma
Available from Reformation Heritage Books
$45.00 US

Douma's work covers 163 key events in redemptive history chronologically. This massive study of over 800 pages in 2 volumes exemplifies faithfulness to the Reformed confessions and Dutch sensitivity to individual stories as they relate to the larger "redemptive-historical " unity of scripture that students of Chronological Bible Storytelling seek. In addition, readers will find it has a "warm hearted" devotional and "experiential" bent that missionaries doing Bible Story Telling will greatly appreciate.

In addition, suggested scripture memory projects for various ages is also included. This is vital with oral learners so that in addition to developing a broad view of the overarching Biblical narrative, they also have a ready "library" of scripture texts embedded in their hearts for instant access.

Promise & Deliverance (4 vol. set)
S.G. De Graaf
Available from Inheritance Publications
(Retail sales only) Can.$149.95 U.S.$109.90

De Graaf's 4 volume set is a treasure trove of material for individuals teaching or telling bible stories.

In many cases, Bible stories are wrongly taught to children as if they were the Hebrew equivalents of one of Aesop's fables with a convenient moral at the end. To that end they are often taught to obtain a child's compliance to parental authority, but not for the ultimate purpose of leading the learner to rejoice in the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

De Graaf reminds us that the narratives of scripture exist to reveal God's grace first and foremost. Only as we understand the stories as the revelation of God's purposes do we properly understand our response to God in light of the narratives in scripture. All scripture is essentially prophetic in that regard. The proper interpretation of the narrative, then, is not a simple "moral". Instead the message of a given narrative relates to the purpose of the character and incident within the larger scheme of redemptive history.

De Graaf's volumes cover the the theme of promise and deliverance in 273 segments from Genesis to Revelation and are excellent for putting each passage in the proper redemptive-historical context.

Chuck's Note: In considering these two resources, some may ask "What is the difference between DeGraaf and Douma's approach?" This relates to some finer points and controversies in Dutch Reformed history that are discussed here at Banner of Truth under the topic of "Exemplary Preaching" when you scroll down the page.

Most Bible Story Tellers are trained to apply the text and/or guide the hearers to apply the text in their teaching, preaching, and discussions so likely could use DeGraaf's work profitably. All the while, they might never notice that his work is associated with a Dutch school of thought that tends to downplay the effort of making direct biblical applications modern Bible Story Tellers are used to making! At times DeGraaf's approach obscures the Bible characters as individual characters in the process of focusing on how Christ's kingdom advances through their story. Douma represents the Dutch perspective that seeks to be more "experiential" in the use of the Biblical narrative.

Speaking on behalf of the cause of the legitimacy of making more direct application as long as the larger redemptive historical context is kept in mind, Douma says: "Our fathers knew very well that redemptive history is a unified structure with Christ at its centre, but they still felt free to treat separately (using biblical givens) certain persons described in Scripture, to picture them psychologically, to speak of their struggles and trials, their strengths and weaknesses, and then to draw parallels between the experiences of the Bible saints and the struggles of the biblical persons as an example to all, but also their sins and weaknesses as a warning" (Quoted here from "Sola Scriptura", Sidney Greidanus, Wedge, Toronto, 1970, p.43).

Given the lack of solid Reformed material available to Bible Story Tellers, I think both resources would be helpful!

DeGraaf's work has been available in print the longest in English. I'm thankful to Reformation Heritage Books for bringing this translation of Douma's work into English.

1 comment:

DanVPorter said...

I really like what you are doing. I am trying to develop two simultaneous studies. One is to determine what constitutes the biblical givens (known fact, object, or something bestowed or enacted; real historical event, established by God as pillars of Covenant community and faith, beginning with: Creation, Flood?, Abrahamic Covenant, Passover-Mosaic Covenant, David, New Covenant in Christ, Pentecost, Scripture, Last Judgment). The other is to develop stories around these biblical givens. I had read some of Greidanus. May the Lord bless your efforts and bring you a network of like-minded pastors and teachers!
Dan Porter