Question: Are you familiar with Randy Frazee [co-editor Max Lucado] and his book called The Story? Our church is promoting it for small group study and I have a few concerns. Would appreciate any information you may have.
Response: We have been going through a copy of The Story for some time. When someone condenses the Bible into what they perceive are the important parts, what becomes quickly apparent is the truth of Paul’s inspired statement that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...” (2 Tm 3:16-17). What some deem to be unimportant often contains the most pertinent details.
The Story contains 21 chapters from the Old Testament and 10 from the New Testament. Summaries are used to “fill in” the missing portions of Scripture. For example, the entire incident of Sodom and Gomorrah is omitted. Instead, we are given the following summary:
Lot made some bad decisions [in taking] up residence near Sodom. In retrospect, it was a poor choice of real estate....The kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other kings squared off in battle against an enemy army. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah lost, and the cities were looted. Lot and his family were among the captives.
...Abram...set out to rescue his nephew..., freed the captives, and recovered the spoil. Meeting a priest [named] Melchizedek, he gave him a tenth of the spoils....
Despite Abram’s growing sense of God’s power, one problem remained that even the Almighty seemed unable to solve. It was Abram’s greatest worry and the main topic of his dialogues with God. [TBC: And what was this great worry of Abram’s? Was it his fear that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, where his nephew lived, for their great wickedness? No, it was the fact that he didn’t have a son.]
Lucado and Frazee’s omission of the full story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a great error. The Lord warned against adding to or taking away from Scripture (Dt 4:2, Rv 22:19), and with good cause. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is referenced throughout the Bible as a warning of God’s judgment on those who do wickedly (see Dt 29:23; Is 1:9, 13:19; Jer:23:14, 50:40; Lam:4:6; Am 4:11; Zep:2:9; Lk 17:29; Jude 7; 2 Pt 2:6; etc.).
At times, the summaries seem to contain unsupported assumptions:
Abram believed that the promised child would come from his own body, but as far as he and Sarai knew, God didn’t specify that Sarai would be the mother. In a move common during this time, they decided that Sarai’s slave, Hagar, would be a surrogate mother for the promised child....
Regarding the “poetic books,” nothing from Job, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Solomon is included. Concerning Psalms and Proverbs, only a relative few examples make it into The Story. The New Testament comprises summaries of the Gospels, some of Paul’s epistles, Acts, and Revelation. The Sermon on the Mount is condensed, with much omitted. The epistle of James is omitted. What is called the Golden Rule is missing although Jesus calls it the summation of the entire Law and Prophets. Finally, very important teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven given by the Lord in Matthew 25 are also missing. Much as we could not recommend the Reader’s Digest Bible from years ago, we cannot recommend a similar mutilation of the revealed Word of God.