I’m honestly in the midst of reading more than ten different books right now. That being the case, it feels good to finish one – especially to finish one in a day, which was the case here. God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts is a great little book (150 pgs) for introducing readers to the basics of Biblical theology. Biblical theology is different from systematic theology (no demeaning of your Scriptural knowledge is intended if you are already aware of this fact). “Isn’t systematic theology biblical?” you ask. Well yes, but “biblical” is typically used in a different sense when it paired with the word “theology.”
Let me explain…systematic theology is the study of a subject in the Bible from the standpoint of examining the totality of what the Bible has to say about the topic. For instance, a systematic theological study of angels would examine everything that the Bible has to say about angels, compile that information together, and present a complete picture accordingly. Where as a Biblical theological approach of the subject of angels would examine the development of the Bible’s teaching about angels as more and more information is revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Biblical theology takes history into account, systematic theology does not. Another example: the first prophecy about Jesus is mentioned in Genesis 3:15; a seed of the woman (Eve) will one day crush the head of the serpent (Satan), but this is hardly the Bible’s whole teaching about Jesus. More is revealed as the Bible progresses.
Vaughan Roberts takes a Biblical theological approach in this book. He examines the overarching story of the Bible, it’s grand narrative, as it develops from Genesis to Revelation. Teaching the grand narrative of the Bible seems to have been tragically neglected in Christian circles for the last 50 years. There is a resurgence of such teaching now, but the average church member still has no idea what you’re talking about if you mention “the grand narrative” of the Bible. Even if you explained what you meant by the phrase “grand narrative,” still many would struggle to relate the story succinctly and clearly. Here’s the story succinctly: Creation > Fall > Redemption > Recreation.
In about 150 pages, Vaughan Roberts lays out these parts of Bible’s grand narrative in surprising and clear detail. This is a clear, concise, easy-to-understand book that should be put in the hand of every church member. I’m planning on taking my small group through this book (which includes questions at the end of each chapter) it if they agree. Good stuff! And definitely appropriate small group material.