Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church in Silicon Valley. You can catch up with him online here or in his recent flurry of publications. 1In The Big Story: How The Bible Makes Sense Out of Life, Buzzard offers up a compelling little volume that attempts to clearly explain the major contours of the Bible’s story. In doing so, Buzzard invites readers to see how only the story told in the Bible can help make sense out of our own individual life stories.
Chapter 1 introduces readers to Jesus as the focal point and hero of this story. Buzzard points to Jesus’ penchant for disrupting our stories (a good thing for sure), and people have no choice but to respond one way or the other once they come in contact with him.
Starting in chapter 2, Buzzard begins working through the story of the gospel. He breaks it down into 5 acts:
You might notice the last four could also be called “Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration” if we were going to use more traditional language. However, Buzzard is writing for non-Christians and new Christians, so I think his synonyms work well.
Each act is given a chapter (2,3,4,5,7) broken up by an intermission between “Rescue” and “Home.” This intermission is essentially an altar call. It is an exhortation for readers to repent and believe the gospel, which I think is appropriately placed in the flow of the book. It is also clearly underscores that Buzzard is writing primarily for non-Christians and introducing them as best he can to Jesus and the gospel.
After he has worked through the five acts of the gospel story, Buzzard closes the book with a chapter on living in the story (“Life”). In it he illustrates well the nature of life between the first and second comings of Jesus and the “already/not yet” nature we all experience on a daily basis. It is also his call to mission for people who have accept Christ and are now living within the “Big Story.”
This final chapter is followed by a short, by very helpful appendix “How to Retell Other People’s Stories With The Big Story.” Here, Buzzard shows how everyone borrows the framework of this big story in one way or another. In other words, if God is not God, then something (or someone else) is. Likewise, everyone has a view about how things are supposed to be (creation) and some understanding of what’s wrong with this place (rebellion). Flowing from that is a proposed solution (rescue) and an ultimate goal (home). In this short appendix, Buzzard helps readers see how to connect the big story to a person’s small story. For non-Christian readers, this appendix will help highlight that even if they do not accept Christianity’s big story, they nonetheless have some other story they are working with.
All in all, I thought this was a helpful little volume. There are some minor issues that may arise from the language Buzzard uses (HT: Aaron Armstrong’s review), but given his audience, and the fact that this book is an entry point, I think it accomplishes the author’s goals. This is a book I might give to a non-Christian that is legitimately searching, or to a new Christian in the context of a discipleship relationship. It is an easy to understand book on biblical theology that is aimed at non-Christians, and that is hard to come by. If that’s what you’re looking for, I think Buzzard’s book is a good place to start.
- Author: Justin Buzzard
- Title: The Big Story: How The Bible Makes Sense Out of Life
- Publisher: Moody Publishers (May 15, 2013)
- Paperback: 192pgs
- Reading Level: General Reader
- Audience Appeal: Non-christians and new Christians (or disciplemakers looking for a book to give out) interested in seeing the big picture story of the Bible
- Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of Moody Publishers)