Book Review – God’s Big Picture (Vaughan Roberts)

  The concept of knowing the biblical “metanarrative” is one that seems to be supremely popular at the moment. Many theologians are saying that there is a desperate need for Christians to understand the big story of God’s redemptive purposes and how they fit in. I bought this book as I was planning to do a series of studies with my cell group on the “big picture”, particularly with regards to the question “what is the point of the Old Testament”.

Vaughan Roberts uses the concept of “kingdom” as the uniting theme of the whole Bible. The kingdom is God’s people living in God’s place under God’s rule and enjoying God’s blessing. This is then explored under eight headings:

  • The Pattern of the Kingdom (Creation)
  • The Perished Kingdom (the fall)
  • The Promised Kingdom (God’s promises to Abraham)
  • The Partial Kingdom (History of the nation of Israel)
  • The Prophesied Kingdom (future hope of OT prophets)
  • The Present Kingdom (life and ministry of Jesus)
  • The Proclaimed Kingdom (early church to present day)
  • The Perfected Kingdom (new heavens and new earth)

I had originally planned only to borrow ideas from this book, but I found myself being increasingly impressed with the organisation and flow of the argument. Each chapter has a short Bible study (two for the partial kingdom chapter), so the whole book could be covered in nine sessions.

Roberts has done a great job of keeping the vocabulary simple, and showing how various prophecies are fulfilled throughout the biblical story. There are a number of breakout boxes which fill in useful information about themes of the Bible or the books of the Bible. He frequently uses diagrams to help explain the concepts.

Tricky concepts such as the “now and not yet” nature of the kingdom, and how the church can fulfil OT prophecies that appear to be exclusively to do with Israel are explained in a straightforward manner. There are probably one or two aspects to his theology I could question, but overall I found this an excellent overview. Those who have already done some reading on the subject of “biblical metanarrative” may not learn anything new, but this is a fine example of how a big theological concept can be taught simply and systematically.

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