12 October 2013

Review: He Has Spoken

Earlier this year, I completed the Centurions Program through the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. During the year long training program, I was immersed in the study of worldview with a great class of people and under the direction of godly faculty. As a part of that program, I spent several weeks teaching one of the video curricula available through the Colson Center, specifically the one called Wide Angle and I closely reviewed two others. 

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of their latest study curriculum, He Has Spoken: The Worldview of Scripture (2013). According to the cover from the DVD, John Stonestreet and TM Moore seek to answer the questions, "What regard is there for God's Word today? Do we rightly handle the Holy Scriptures? How ought we to respond to its authority?"

The materials consist of a 98 minute DVD and an associated study guide. If recollection serves me, the other Colson Center materials I have used are centered around the DVD with an associated discussion guide. I assumed this set would be the same way with the DVD being the primary driver.  I soon discovered, however, that in the case of He Has Spoken, the DVD supports the study guide rather than vice versa. Once I realized this switch, I appreciated how well it was done. There are three basic sections.

Five Clips of John Stonestreet

On the DVD, although there are ten video clips, the first five videos include John Stonestreet addressing the following issues:
  1. The Idea of Revelation: Clarifying the Proper Place of Scripture
  2. Being Biblical: How We Miss the Point of Scripture
  3. The Big Picture: Grasping the Purposes of Scripture
  4. Not Ashamed: Trusting the Power of the Scripture
  5. Under the Word: Assuming a Posture Worthy of the Scripture.
These five videos are meant to be shown at the outset of the study for the week. If you are familiar with the Two Minute Warning videos, these clips follow that format. In each short video, Stonestreet in his lively style presents these relevant issues. They could best be considered an appetizer--although full of good stuff about God's word in and of themselves, they only begin to whet the appetite.

Stonestreet seeks to establish that the Bible is God's revealed word to His people through both the Old and New Testaments. He makes the point that as God's revealed word, it cannot be incidental to our lives and cannot be simply a book. He commented "It has to be the ground on which we stand."

I really appreciated how Stonestreet talked about what the Bible is not, because there is a lot of confusion about this not only outside of the church, but inside as well. He suggests that we cannot see the Bible simply as a book of fragmented nuggets, love letters, or a series of stories about heroes, but rather as one story that centers on Jesus. Consistent with the mission of the Colson Center, Scripture is not only true Truth, as Francis Schaeffer would say, but should shape our entire lives as Kingdom people. Consequently, we approach the scripture with humility, obedience, expectation, repentance, and in community.

Study Guide-TM Moore

The second part consists of a study guide prepared by theologian and Dean of the Centurion program, TM Moore. Having completed the Centurion Program, I know the quality of study materials that he writes. This study guide is no exception. It contains 35 separate lessons divided into five parts of seven lessons each.  The five parts are:
  1. The Word Which is Able to Save
  2. Let God Be True
  3. Threads in the Tapestry of Truth
  4. The Sword of the Spirit
  5. Receiving God's Word
Initially as I began interacting with the materials, it wasn't immediately clear to me how the video clips fit with the study guide materials. The different titles for the videos and the lessons was somewhat confusing, but I was able to figure it out. Moore spends the initial section establishing the uniqueness of Scripture from all other books. Having established the importance of the Bible, Moore moves on in the second section to show how Scripture is not merely a moral guideline or series of life verses but the grand story of all of human history. In this second section, the model of worldview thinking that has been regularly promoted and discussed by the Colson Center (creation, fall, redemption, consummation) begins to take shape and is more fully developed through the remaining sections. After discussing in more depth the grand narrative of Scripture in section three, Moore develops the practical points of how the "Sword of the Spirit" is used in our lives. Christians are a "proclaiming people" who have the good news of the Gospel. Though we will face challenges, God's word is powerful and active. Although the whole study guide is applicable to the Christian life, the final section zeroes in on how to receive the Word. Moore discusses, among other things, how to read, meditate, study, and discuss the Word of God.

Five Conversations--TM Moore and John Stonestreet

Finally, the conversations between Moore and Stonestreet were a real highlight for me. I have a deep respect for both of these men and to watch them interact about the materials was a blessing. I have had the chance to talk with them on a personal level and they are effective, clear communicators of the Word and Christian worldview. Essentially, in these conversations, Stonestreet would ask Moore about the materials and they would talk over them. In many regards, these conversations were also immensely practical to the Christian. They discuss issues such as how to choose a Bible without an obvious nod to one translation versus another. They suggest that you choose one you will read. After choosing a Bible, we must come to know what it says because Christians are involved in a war and this Word is our primary weapon. If we come to know the Word, we can start where people are and, using reason and the Word, we can share with them the love of God. However, they make the point that we must approach Scripture humbly, prayerfully, and with an eye to the grand story that it presents, being careful not to over-"metaphoricalize", a word I learned from Mr Stonestreet in the final conversation.

In summary, this is an excellent resource for the church. It could certainly be employed as an individual Bible study, but I believe it may be used even more effectively as a small group resource because, as we learned in this video, Scripture is meant to be studied communally. In my own church, we have made a concerted effort to help people get into the Word on a consistent basis. He Has Spoken would be of great use for Christians to deepen their own understanding of Scripture and understand its importance in their lives and in the culture. Ideally, many churches would avail themselves of this excellent set of materials which may help the Christian church reclaim their biblical literacy and subsequently improve their capacity to have an influence upon culture to the glory of God.

The Colson Center has allowed me to give away one copy of this DVD and study guide. If you are interested in being considered you can: 1) comment on this post, though I will need your email, 2) share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter (and let me know you did), or 3) retweet this post. I am sure these materials will be a blessing to you. I will do the drawing next Saturday, October 19th.


Mitch Snyder said...

I'm in! You know my email address!

Andew said...

Good morning Dr. Kanz. Count me in as well.

Bundt said...

I'm interested! Thanks for the review.