Friday, May 09, 2008

"unthinkable" from John Frye

Imagine a day when Scripture begins to disappear starting in John's gospel. Slowly but surely every trace of it everywhere is gone so that all else remains except the words of Scripture.

In John Frye's "novella" or novel entitled Out of Print, this is precisely what happens. God's written word is no where to be found, disappearing from monuments, Bibles, books in which it is quoted, whether in original languages or translated. A world-wide phenomena that has everyone up in arms, especially Christians and religious people. So is the setting in chapter one of this most interesting story.

You begin to meet real people here. Like a brilliant evangelical seminary professor. A woman living with her boyfriend who could care less while she is distressed over it, wondering if God has disappeared off the face of the earth or is no longer present since the Bible is gone. A team of married Bible translators who lovingly and painstakingly have worked on understanding and translating God's word beginning with John's gospel into a native tongue of those who have never had a Bible. But now all is lost! A devoted lady teaching children with Child Evangelism Fellowship materials, having done so for years, but now that possibility seems oh so sadly gone! And others.

The Roman Catholic Church seems headed towards the idea that somehow Satan and demons may have stolen it. Evangelical Protestant scholars don't buy into that. But just what in the world is going on is really beyond everyone. And why.

I really like John's novel and how he opens it. The more we can imagine ourselves there, perhaps as one of the characters, and John provides a nice variety of them to choose from, the better. This is a story worth having in your home, reading and rereading over time, and really thinking about it.

What about it? We're used to having the Book, but what if it began gradually and over time to completely disappear? How would that impact our faith? How would the world see it? How would we Christians see it? And what difference would it make in our lives now and beyond? And to the world?

This is a set of questions which John Frye in his more than able story telling ability will seek to answer in the pages that lie ahead.

Next week we look at chapter two, "Unexplainable" as Christians seek to understand just what has happened, and what it means for their witness in the world. Stay tuned, and better yet, get a copy and read. Only a little over 100 pages and a page turner. And most importantly- besides telling a story as John can do it- it really gets you to thinking about God's word and its place in our lives now. Unsettling, but maybe this is something of what God wants to do in our lives. Are we misusing the Book or missing the point of it? What place is it to have in our lives? Would many professing Christians even miss it if its words were gone?

What thoughts or questions might you like to add here?

Next week: chapter two: "Unexplainable"

10 comments:

Rachel Mc said...

"Are we misusing the book or missing the point?" I have to tell you that I read Jesus Creed blog and when the discussion centers around the bible and this translation versus that one; this interpretation versus that one, I just get such a kick reading everyone's comments. I am an accountant so i do appreciate the responders have extensively studied the bible, its history and translations and nuances, etc. But some of the passion people put into their ideas as being right and others misinterpreted..its kinda funny. I have't gotten this book yet but I will and I think it would absolutely terrify people if the bible disappeared because people would feel abandoned by God, or that evil was "winning". I think people would look for a supernatural explanation and response from God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Thanks so much for your response.

Alas, it is a light day over here. I was hoping to get more response on this one, as I think it's quite deserving and the thought that goes with it could help all of us, and really I think would be meant to help all of us since what is brought out in this book is exactly the point you bring up here.

Indeed we're missing the point of the Book in so many ways, and if it was taken away from us, then maybe it would help us see the point of the Book.

As for Jesus Creed, yes. You have quite a number of professors and learned people on there, and many of them seem well versed and there is a good give and take there, and exchange.

I think scholarly interplay such as we see there most definitely has its place. By scholarship we have our Bibles and so much more.

But one must step aside from that if one is to not miss the point of why the Bible was given as God's word to us, in the first place. We must set all that aside and seek to sit at Jesus' feet, so to speak, to hear what the Spirit would say to us through the word. Adn then believe and obey, and seek to continue in that.

Ironically this was pointed out on Jesus Creed by one of the most prolific commenters on that blog, a good commentor as well. And I agree, a good way of expressing something new, or in a new way to me, which resonated.

But yes, I appreciate your take on how it would be, and John Frye certainly concurs with you on that.

L.L. Barkat said...

Fascinating concept. I'm going to look in my on-line library right now to see if they carry it.

NaNcY said...

i tried to post earlier...but, my connection ate it i suppose.

i read this chapter today...and it made me want to go and check out my bible!

it is causing me to think about the importance of it in my life.

like things that are living really do fade away from this earth...and even though written words do not just disappear, the word of God actually is living...i see it as living because of how it is used by the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts and lives.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
Hopefully you'll find it. John is a sharp guy. Taught for awhile at Dallas Seminary before pastoring a church for nearly 30 years. He is now pastoring an Evangelical Covenant church in Hudsonville, Michigan, not that far from where we live. Had he started doing that earlier, it's a good possibility we could have attended there, and especially so now, since it is closer due to the fairly new south beltline freeway.

Yes, and how John draws this out is interesting!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
I think you're getting at what John is getting at in part, in the book. John is critical in how Christians use and don't use the Bible. But he has a loving heart of gold. You can see that oh so well when you meet him.

preacherman said...

Thank you so much for this post brother. I love John Frye so much and all he says on his blog is so wonderful. I know his book is going to be fantastic. Ted you should write a book. Please... :-) I love the thing that you have to say. Your blog uplifts my spirit. Keep up the great blogging.

On another note brother: I have a friend and brother in Christ who is suffering like never before. I would greatly appreciate it if you and your readers would stop by for a moment and leave a word of encouragement for him. He needs our prayers like never before. So Please.......Take the time to make a difference in the life of a family who is suffering greatly.

In Him,
Kinney Mabry
Aka,
Preacherman! :-)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Will do, and thanks.

You're way too generous. Though I would like to get a job where I work in editing. Maybe the Lord will put it on my heart to want to write a book, but though I'm a communicator as one brother just said, I really don't have it on my heart to do so. There's so many good books out there that we all can't get to.

It is fun to blog.

And so sorry about your friend and what he is going through with his health, and the health of their unborn child, as I recall.

Will give a heads up over here.

John Frye said...

Ted,
Greetings from Ukraine! I am so pleased with your "review" of *Out of Print.* Thanks so much. I will try to get to a computer as I often as I can and follow your reviews.
God bless!
John

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks John. It's more than a pleasure.

Hope all is going well for you in the Ukraine. The full measure of the blessing of Christ be on you there, and Happy Mother's Day to Julie!