Saturday, December 13, 2008

World "Pictures"

John Milton was an old school Puritan who wrote the classic Paradise Lost. He would be 400 years old if he were still alive today. I was reading an interview with Leland Ryken, a Milton scholar and well-known Christian thinker, about this classic poem (click here for the interview, and props to for the vine)

I found this Ryken quote interesting:

I think that Christian readers should begin by reminding themselves that they live not only by a Christian world view but also by a Christian world picture. In addition to the great doctrines of the Christian faith, we live by the great images of the faith. Milton's poem puts us in touch with the images of the Christian faith—images of Satan and hell, of God and heaven, of Paradise and original perfection, of temptation and fall, of sin and salvation.

Our Christmas musical, Esmerelda, has really affected me. I saw a picture of Jesus had never seen before. It was a compelling picture that has changed the way I view parenting, pastoring, and, well... living. I want to know that person more. He's a person I want to spend eternity with.

I had this same feeling after reading The Shack.

But this quote made me think about the "world pictures" that shape how I think and live my life as a follower of Jesus. There is power in a story, a poem, a musical, a movie that can give us a new picture of life with God.

Ryken contrasts "doctrines" with "images." I was thinking about this as I just preached on Romans 8. To me, Romans 8 is a musical called "Esmerelda." Justification, reconciliation, and adoption converge in a man helping a lost, cursed girl find her way back to her Father. It's a chapter in which words seem to fall way too short. An epic fairy tale seems more appropriate.

Maybe I should start singing and acting out my sermons in story form...


Anonymous said...

It is a rather sad reality when analogies (The Shack, Esmerelda, etc.) are preferred over the objective, historical, and factual story of Christ's death to redeem fall man. The biblical story of redemption is the most beautiful story ever told and needs no props.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it Jesus who spoke in Parables? He could have just gave us facts, but He chose stories... that we would connect with him in a deeper way. I don't think God is concerned with our knowledge as much as our intimacy & our closeness with Him...

I think God was sooo honored by Esmerelda and He greatly delighted in it...

Chris Saldanha said...

But Mark, you sermons are story form. When you think about it, God has always communicated through narrative, and never bullet points. In communicating the Gospel at TSC or Cstone, you're telling a story about the story. In many ways it's just as powerful as singing or acting.

There's a great Don Miller quote that says something to the extent of there being both truth and meaning. The substance can be true, but the way it is communicated is what gives it meaning. You continue to bring meaning to the story God is telling.

Metropuritan Mark said...

One question for the first person... Do you prefer the "objective, historical, and factual" over parables?

Yes, the biblical story is the most beautiful ever told. That's precisely the reason we go to such great lengths to retell it- with all energy, creativity, accuracy, and prayer we can muster.

Do you object to the Chronicles of Narnia, or Pilgrim's Progress, or Paradise Lost or Lord of the Rings?

On a different note- Chris, you know I'm still your #1 fan. Positive comments only reinforce that commitment to you :)