On Story: Denouement, Desert, and Faith


  • (RP) IPA: /deˈnuːmɑ̃/
  • (US) IPA: /deɪnuˈmɑnt/, /deɪnuˈmɑ̃/

“Denouement” is a fancy word for the final conclusion, when the climax comes to final resolution.

In a murder mystery, the climax is the moment the detective solves the mystery, or when he finally figures it out. The denouement is when the bad guy is caught. It’s the end of the story when the loose ends have all been neatly tied up and all that went before finally makes perfect sense.

In the Bible, the denouement is the Second Coming of Jesus. It’s when the wicked are judged and sent to destruction, the redeemed are saved and protected from destruction, and God joins heaven and earth to walk with man once again. Continue reading

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On Story: Of Adam, Eve, Conflict, and Climax

Story2The elements of a good story

Let’s take Adam and Eve, Genesis 2 and 3, as an example of a good story.


Every writer knows that a good story has to have certain elements. It has to have characters that we understand. It’s even better if we identify with them. If we can understand Adam and Eve, the story is good. If we identify with Adam and Eve — if we see ourselves in them — then it’s an even better story. Continue reading

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On Story: Of Worldviews and Metanarratives

Story2We’ve talked about stories and story theory before. I hope this isn’t too repetitive. But I’m increasingly finding how very important story is to Christianity. And I’m hoping maybe to tie a few threads together from prior posts to make a point or two.

It could happen.

We need to make a few things clear as we begin. First, by “story” we don’t mean fiction. There are both true stories and made-up stories. Obviously, when we’re discussing scripture, I have in mind a true story. The word “story” does not imply fiction. (Please don’t make me say it again.)

Second, the Bible is tied together by a big story, a story that is told through a series of smaller stories. Each smaller story is the story of a man’s or woman’s interaction with God. And each smaller story gives us a different perspective on God. Each perspective is true — but each perspective is different. Continue reading

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“My Kind of Town … ” Headed to Chicago

In a couple of days, I’ll be headed to Chicago. I’ll be speaking at a convention of the National Association of Bond Lawyers, dealing particularly with chapter 9 bankruptcies — that is, bankruptcies of cities and counties. A timely topic, but not really good Sunday school class material.

I’ll try to keep up via my laptop, and I’ve already posted several posts on the theology of story. But the plan is mainly to eat steak and pizza. I mean, any city famous for steak and pizza is my kind of town.

PS — The posts on story theory will offer as background several lengthy pieces of music, especially the work of Mike Oldfield. Mainly because that’s what I was listening to when I wrote the posts. It’s about one essay per Oldfield album. You don’t have to listen if you don’t want to. But you should.

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A Hospice for Dead Churches

deadchurchPart 1

Ed Stetzer is an expert on church growth and a consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m a fan.

He recently wrote a blog post called “Creating a Hospice Ministry for Churches.” I thought it was about churches providing hospice care for dying people — not a bad idea. But it’s really about hospice care for dying churches.

Thousands of Churches of Christ close their doors every decade. Sometimes the building is sold and the members pocket the money. Really. Sometimes the building is abandoned. Sometimes the members give up and quit church altogether. Sometimes they find another congregation to join. Rarely does a church die well. Continue reading

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The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ — Is There a Third Way?

third-way-300x241A friend of mine from high school popped up here at One In Jesus the other day asking what this “progressive Church of Christ” thing might be. He’s from another Christian tribe. And it’s kinda hard to explain.

I jotted off a response. Here’s a revised version.


Good to hear from you. The Churches of Christ drifted into legalism in the 20th Century after having been a unity movement in the 19th Century. There is now a movement within the Churches to escape fundamentalism/legalism and find a better path. We sometimes call it “progressive,” but it’s a very poor term. I’m continually looking for something better. “Third Way” has recently popped up, and it might catch on. Continue reading

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Josh Graves on Reading the Bible (and Being Read by the Bible)

dusty-bible-read-meOver at Jesus Creed, Josh Graves recently posted on four common views on how to read the Bible. It’s an excellent post, and you should follow the link to read it in its entirety.

He finds four common views:

VIEW #1: FUNDAMENTALIST or BASIC (The Bible is read as a rule-book for living a godly life before a watching judge.)

God is a judge with holy (sometimes angry) and wrathful disposition towards sinful humanity. Jesus saved humanity. Though he loves us, God’s anger burns towards humanity because of continual evil and wicked ways.

Notice how this parallels the atonement theories earlier considered here. And, of course, there are plenty of passages that speak of God’s wrath — but not of God’s wrath toward the saved. The problem with this approach is that it forgets that Jesus saves completely — rather than just barely if at all. Continue reading

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Searching for a biblical Bible correspondence course

biblecorrespondencecourseI’ve had some readers contact me privately, requesting a Bible correspondence course.

These have been great evangelistic tools over the years, but every one I can find on the Internet is too legalistic for me to recommend. They seem targeted at “denominational error” rather than the need for Jesus.

Surely someone, somewhere has put together some materials that aren’t rife with legalism and denominational pettifogging. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Do you know of one that teaches a theology you’d be willing to see taught at your own church?

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Atonement: The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, Part 6

deathofthemessiahandthebirthofthenewcovenantWe are continue to reflect on Michael J. Gorman’s The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement.

Atonement for this world

Moreover, Gorman argues that the new covenant provides a perspective on atonement that is this-worldly. It’s not just about what happens in heaven (as important as those things are).

The spirituality of the new covenant, as a participatory spirituality, is decidedly a this-worldly spirituality. It is this-worldly, first of all, because it is fundamentally Jewish and therefore affirms the goodness of creation. It is this-worldly also because it is grounded in, and is a means of sharing in, the events of a very this-worldly reality: a Roman crucifixion that Christians confess to be the divine “medicine for the world” (crux est mundi medicina, a saying of the ancient church).

(Kindle Locations 5700-5703). Continue reading

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Atonement: An Orthodox Perspective

Brought to my attention by a reader, and well worth a listen, all the way through.

Posted in Atonement, The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, by Michael J. Gorman, Uncategorized | 4 Comments