Story-Lines of Scripture and Footsteps in the Sea -- By: Mark A. Seifrid

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 12:4 (Winter 2008)
Article: Story-Lines of Scripture and Footsteps in the Sea
Author: Mark A. Seifrid


Story-Lines of Scripture and Footsteps in the Sea

Mark A. Seifrid

Mark A. Seifrid is Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as Visiting Lecturer at Wheaton College and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Along with many articles, Dr. Seifrid is the author of Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (Brill, 1992) and Christ Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification (InterVaristy, 2001). In addition, he has co-edited (with D. A. Carson and Peter T. O’Brien) the two-volume work Justification And Variegated Nomism (Baker, 2001, 2004).

He also has placed eternity in their heart, yet not so that they can find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Eccl 3:11).

1. Story-Lines and God’s Mysterious Way

Theologians of all sorts, both systematicians and exegetes, have been gripped by a fever of story-telling. Everyone in their own way wants to tell the old, old story. This drive to narration derives from diverse concerns. For many the appeal lies in the alternative “salvation-history” traditionally has provided to the negative effects of historical-criticism, especially its atomization and subsuming of the text into a modern narrative of the world. Over against the standards of enlightened historical judgment, the Scriptures, it is contended, have their own story-line that holds its validity and truthfulness over against the modern, secular vision. This interpretation of Scripture as a unified, overarching story seems all the more urgent in the face of postmodern rejection of all-encompassing “metanarratives.” Not only outside church walls, but also within them, each and everyone wants to have their own story of the world, a story that “works” for them. This swallowing up of the objective by the subjective—if it were finally possible—would be the end of Christian faith. The concern to reinforce the biblical story is therefore quite understandable.

This first concern overlaps with another, one that is perhaps more strongly felt by the evangelical left, and yet is certainly not absent from the right. The appeal to “story” allows for emphasis on moral exhortation, the call to find one’s location within that story and to live out the divine purpose that it narrates. It diverts attention from the salvation of the individual to the redemption of the people of God. Narrative interpretation of Scripture thus serves as a useful weapon against quietism and privatism by giving the community of faith priority over the individual believer. It is not surprising that those who contend for a missional theology nearly always embrace...

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