My piece still has relevance…for all of us!
There are many things to like about Provan’s book.
The writing is lucid and engaging. Provan is an author who wants his readers to understand his arguments. You don’t scratch your head wondering what he really means. This seems rather basic, but if you read a lot you learn it is not something you can always assume.
Provan is certainly tethered to Scripture, but I appreciated his integrative approach. Provan uses a wonderful array of sources from history, philosophy, and popular culture.
One of my favorite things about the book are the contrasts Provan teases out between Christianity and other world religions. These insights are worded in a way that I have not seen in any other book. They provide compelling testimony to the uniqueness of Christianity.
I don’t agree with the author on some matters, such as the extent of the Fall’s effects. However, even when I did disagree with Provan, it got me thinking in new ways that were beneficial.
Last, I read this book because I thought it would show how the more difficult claims of/about God, especially in the Old Testament, were compatible with His grace. There is some of this for sure, but I would have liked to see more interaction with the thornier issues in the Old Testament.
All in all, an extremely worthwhile read.
I am writing some smaller “commentaries” on the Bible. I recently finished one on Habakkuk titled, God, What on Earth are You Doing? The following is from my introduction to Genesis:
Telling a story well is powerful. Telling a powerful story can be life altering. Even best selling books for the business community know that data alone can be lifeless and so not terribly motivating. Tell a story worth telling and people’s curiosity is piqued. Their imaginations are engaged. They ready for action. The Bible tells a great story so seek to know and communicate it well.
 You see this throughout Kouzes James M. and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge 4th Ed. (San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, 2007). Also see Tom Morris, The Art of Achievement: Success in Business and in Life (New York, NY: MJF Books, 2002), 19-21.
 By the way, too many Christians think they know the story of the Bible well. They have sat in church for many years and heard “all about Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mary, and Paul.” Actually, most only have superficial familiarity with the Bible.
When pastor Todd Putney convened an enthusiastic community discussion of The Shack, it didn’t go as he had hoped. “I thought that book would be a bridge to the God of the Scriptures, but it wasn’t. No one wanted to go there. They preferred the story and the god of The Shack over the God of the Scriptures.”
Elegant writing coupled with crucial insights in this article:
All seven billion of us on planet earth are on a level playing field.
We all seek to make sense of life.
The Bible’s story is realistic, comprehensive, and hopeful.
The Big Story by Justin Buzzard is a good resource to give seekers and young Christians. Through wonderful illustrations it does a nice job of showcasing the drama of Scripture’s story.
Buzzard quotes Marianne’s Williamson about the “glory of God within us,” but it would have been better to either not quote her or clarify her New Age convictions. She is talking about something very different than Buzzard!
“Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into our future so that we can take the next step . . . If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.”
(Ivan Illich, HT: Justin Buzzard)
Both Augustine in City of God and Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles showed how the Christian story was the best and most compelling. I plan to write on it in the near future.