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God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

It is well known that present day generations have significantly less familiarity with and understanding of the Bible than previous ones.  Many do not understand the overarching themes which unify scripture.  Our biblical education often consists of disjointed instruction in this or that story with little or no help on how it all ties together.  It is this problem which the discipline of biblical theology aims to deal with, and Vaughan Roberts’ book God’s Big Picture is an excellent introduction to the discipline.  The book is written on a popular level and isn’t loaded down with technical terms and discussions.  Overall, it provides a very readable and understandable framework for understanding God’s work in history to bring about the salvation of his people. 

The book is organized around the biblical concept of God’s kingdom, which Vaughan understands to be “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing” (21).  Those familiar with the literature in the field will see the authors dependance on the work of Graeme Goldsworthy (Gospel and Kingdom, Paternoster, 1981), which Vaughan happily admits.  The eight chapters trace the concept of God’s kingdom from Genesis through Revelation.  Since it is a work on biblical theology, signficant emphasis is given to the way the Old Testament witnesses to Christ.  Vaughan very capably leads the reader through major issues that give unity to the biblical text.  Each chapter helpfully includes at least one Bible Study to further develop the issues raised in the chapter.

The weaknesses in the book are few.  Sometimes I thought he was pressing the idea of the Church as the “new Isreal” a bit too hard, rather than seeing the Church as the incorporation of the nations into Israel (111).  This is a minor issue though.  Also, my guess is that Roberts is a Calvinist, but it is not overt in the book.  This book would function as a fine text in a local church adult education course on biblical theology.  The weaknesses are certainly no reason not to benefit greatly from this text.

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