If you remember, I used my Westminster gift certificate to order Jonathan Pennington’s Reading The Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (along with these others). In chapter 3, “Why Do We Need The Gospels? (or Why Saint Paul Is Not Enough)” Pennington gives us 9 reasons we need the Gospel narratives (38-48):
- They have been central to the church throughout its history
- Paul and the other New Testament writers presuppose and build on the story and teaching of Jesus
- Although the written form of the Gospels is subsequent to most of the Epistles, the traditions behind them are no; they go back to the time of Jesus himself and the immediately following years
- In them we get a more direct sense of the Bible’s great story line
- They offer a concentrated exposure to the biblical emphasis on the coming kingdom of God
- There are different languages or discourses of truth (i.e. truth in story, vs. truth in confessions and epistles)
- They are in many ways a more comprehensive and paradigmatic type of map (or language of truth)
- Encountering Jesus in narrative helps us grow in experiential knowledge and realize that reality does not always fit into neat little boxes of “truth”
- In the Gospels alone we have a personal, up-front encounter with Jesus Christ
I found this list to be a good reminder of why we need to be reading the Gospels regularly. It can be tempting to rely on a devotional diet of Epistles or Proverbs, but Pennington reminds us that it might be as healthy as it could be to do so. Because of this, I’m incorporating the Gospels more into my daily Bible reading, but you’ll have to wait until next week to see how.
I’ve since Pennington’s book and it is definitely worth your time to do the same. I won’t offer a review, but I’ll definitely pass along some insights if I get the urge!