|Tell that to your Jewish neighbours!|
The Hope Project booklet states:
"In all its variety, it [the Bible] tells the unified story of God's plan..." (p.6)
"The Bible teaches that God supervised the contributors in what they wrote." (p.7)
To point one I can only repeat what I wrote in an earlier post about metanarrative, the idea that there is a big, unifying narrative that runs from Genesis through to Revelation.
Metanarrative: big word but simple concept. The idea is that there is a grand narrative, a saga, a big story that gives sense to the world, "an overarching story that defines your reality and who you are within it." There are, according to the theorists, competing metanarratives, but the one we're talking about is the story about sin, death, saviour and salvation (Eden, Satan, the Fall... all leading to Christ - birth, death, resurrection - and ultimately salvation from the sin that began back in the Garden.) Metanarrative is especially significant as a concept, according to Don Cupitt, in Reformed theology.John Calvin in particular stuck so close to Augustine and was so Grand-Narrative-minded that preachers in his tradition (variously called Reformed, Calvinist, Presbyterian or puritan) long tended to maintain that the entire story, the Plan of Salvation, was implicit in every verse of Scripture...And so it's deemed okay, even necessary, to go on a treasure hunt through Genesis, trying to find ways to tie it in to a theology that only emerged long after. The problem is not only that the Old Testament is pillaged for dubious proof texts, but that the standard metanarrative has gaping holes in it anyway. Is it worth rescuing? Death and suffering long predate the rise of human beings on this planet. Nature has always been red in tooth and claw. We didn't do it!
Apart from that obvious objection, there is no undisputed metanarrative in the Bible, only in the minds of certain of its interpreters. The popular version owes as much to Milton's puritan classic Paradise Lost as to the Bible. You have to mutilate the scriptures to make them "fit" into a metanarrative.
If there was some inescapably unified story, then what do you do with Jewish exegesis of scripture? You'd have to conclude, along with persecuting anti-Semitic theologians of time past, that they are just being bull-headed about ignoring the obvious. Surely on this side of the Holocaust we know better than that!
As to the second point, the various writers of the books that ended up in the Bible clearly had no idea that their words would meet this fate. Did Paul have any inkling that his letters would end up bound together with the Hebrew scriptures? The evidence for that just doesn't exist. They didn't see themselves as "contributors" to some larger epic literary project. The Bible is a collection of books each with its own identity. The decision as to what was included in the final cut was not unanimous (which is why Jewish Bibles, Catholic Bibles and Protestant Bibles have different canons) and the result of very fallible human processes long after most of these documents were composed. I've blogged at some length about this before, so won't repeat it here.
None of which clouds the naivete of Hope For All.
Reading Josh McDowell will do that to you.