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Join author Brian McLaren for “From Genesis to Revelation,” a 7-part journey through the biblical narrative. Once a week, you’ll receive a set of new journaling prompts about a new part of the Bible story. Use these prompts in your own journal or in group discussion.
Introduction
A persistent and troubling question has plagued–or maybe blessed is the right word?–my adult life:

Why does Christianity, the faith I believe and the way of life that has given me purpose and direction, so often play on the wrong side?
Jesus taught us not to condemn, not to “cast the first stone.” Why, then, are so many Christians typified as judgmental, critical, negative, and hypocritical? Why did the life and teaching of a man who died on a cross–actually practicing what he preached about turning the other cheek–become associated with religious people who seem too happy to justify war? Why do followers of a man who said God cared for every wildflower and common sparrow often careless about God’s creation?
In other words, why do we so often miss the point, and do so with such amazing gracelessness?

My books have chronicled my grappling with these questions. I didn’t start writing with answers in mind; rather, the questions drove me to write, and whatever answers I found emerged in the writing process.
So far, two discoveries have helped me begin not only to answer my nagging “miss the point” question, but also to begin imagining what to do about it.
First, Christian faith is at heart not a system of belief, not a list of abstractions to be defended, certainly not a list of rules to be followed. Rather, it is a story, and a way of understanding the human story-where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going. Christian faith goes sour when it misunderstands or loses track of its inherent story, but it germinates, grows, blossoms, and bears fruit when it is believed and lived as a vital narrative of Creator-and-creation in an ongoing relationship.
Second, Jesus’ life and message make the most sense in the context of this unfolding story. To try to fit Jesus into some other context guarantees that we will miss the point. In short, Jesus (as I have come to understand him) came as a Jewish man with good news: God was inviting everyone, beginning with his fellow Jews, into a new way of relating, understanding, working, praying, and living. His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit were ways of making that message visible and possible in our world.
That sets the stage for the journaling experience I would like to invite you to participate in. For those familiar with my writings, these prompts will relate primarily to The Story We Find Ourselves In (second in the “New Kind of Christian” trilogy), A Generous Orthodoxy, and The Secret Message of Jesus. But you really don’t need any familiarity with my books, so long as you have a basic understanding of the biblical story.
In this journal, I’ll guide you through the entire course of the biblical narrative. Each time you come to the journal, feel free to write as much or as little as you like, and to interact with other people’s journals. You can also post photographs or any images you like that help your journaling experience. Every few days we’ll encounter a new part of the Bible story, moving from God’s great Beginning to the Consummation of all things. I hope that your journaling on this overview of the biblical narrative–told in seven episodes, with three or four prompts for each episode–will be as helpful to you as it has been to me. I look forward to seeing what you have to say.
–Brian McLaren

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