If you asked the average Christian where their theology fits on the spectrum of orthodox Christianity, odds are good that you would hear a pause and then an answer that reflects a denominational affiliation. While not a bad answer, many Christians are unaware of the landscape from which their denominational or theological biases arise. While denominations themselves are often differentiated by more subtle differences, often relegated to the tertiary or third level of doctrine, the broader subsets of Christianity are often differentiated at the biblical theology level, more specifically, how they put together this grand story of scripture, the metanarrative.
From the broadest perspective, the metanarrative is composed of four moves: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. At this level we wholeheartedly shake the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ and agree with one voice. See diagram below.
But…as we begin to zoom in and bring some more details to this drama, that’s where we begin to find what I will call “lively discussion.” I would roughly guesstimate that about 98% of scripture happens from the bottom of the Fall line to the point of Consummation, and so…not surprisingly this is where disagreement begins to come in, particularly when we begin to discuss the relationship of what falls on the line to the left of Redemption and what falls on the line to the right of Redemption. Or put another way, how one puts together the relationship between Israel and the Church, and how the covenants relate to each other, will determine what flavor your theology is on the orthodox Christian spectrum, and particularly when we are talking about Protestantism.
While I will not go into any detail of how traditions resolve these relationships or share my own leanings, I will make one proposition. While using the metanarrative in its four move structure is helpful, to find the real fruit and see the true beauty of what God is doing through history, we have to bring the covenants into the metanarrative. God has chosen to relate to humanity through covenant relationship and in fact his overall plan and purpose for the world is administered through the covenants, so while disagreements will arise as we traverse this landscape, to leave the covenants out of the discussion in navigating the metanarrative would be like attempting a road trip in a car with no wheels.
This being said, as we think about the metanarrative of scripture, I propose that the following should be the minimal contouring we must add in building our roadmap of scripture.
In the following posts, I will be reflecting on what we find as we make our way from Creation to Consummation, and as we’ll see God tends to work with pattern and trajectory always in mind.