So why did I write Long Story Short?
And who is it designed for?
These are two questions I get asked a lot.
Aside from Josh’s quirky stories and some (hopefully) relatable examples from pop culture, what need is the book devised to meet?
To be crystal clear: Long Story Short is not a book for scholars. On the contrary, it’s a book that uses humor and relatable experiences to teach the basic storyline of Scripture from beginning to end. It’s designed to make the Bible more accessible for ordinary people: skeptics, students, new believers, Sunday School teachers, and even the spiritually homeless.
On the very first page I write:
this is a book for all those regular folks for whom the Bible seems daunting or confusing. It is for all those people who have ever tried to understand the Scriptures but found the Bible intimidating, strange, or even offensive.
I’ve been there.
In fact, some of us are scholars now because that strangeness lodged itself inside of us—like a fire in our bones.
As a teenager, I rode home from church camp each summer with a resolution etched within my mind (and probably within my hipster Moleskin journal). Amidst the camp speaker’s annual challenge to remain pure, witness to the heathen football team, and avoid Metallica like soul depended on it, I would make myself a promise: This year I will read my Bible! This year will be different! This year, I will start each morning in God’s Word. I’ll start in Genesis!
And each year, near Leviticus, I’d fail.
That’s who Long Story Short is for—it’s for the person who wants to understand something of the “Big Story” being told in the Bible without losing the forest for the trees.
That’s why the subtitle is The Bible is Six Simple Movements.
The goal is not to replace the Bible with my own “reader friendly” version of it (How arrogant!), but to provide a fun and simple onramp to the basic storyline of Scripture in a format anyone can understand:
(1) Creation (2) Fall (3) Israel (4) Jesus (5) Church (6) New Creation
That’s it. But within that single plotline lies every moment of human history, with Jesus Christ as the center around which all of life is meant to orbit.
My one and only “Big Idea” is this: when understood as a single plotline from beginning to end, Scripture comes alive, not just as rules or lessons, but as an unfolding of a drama that sucks us in to the performance.
As a story, God’s revelation in the Bible is without peer in all of human history. In fact, the story is all of human history. It begins with creation and crescendos to a new creation that comes to heal our mess of sin and death.
In an age of biblical illiteracy (or sheer boredom), my goal is to take the Bible from a closed book to an open one. The approach, however, is not to fill your head with more information, but to awaken your imagination to the beauty of God’s grand drama. In this way, my little book introduces the Scriptures not as a complex list of rules or doctrines, but as a single Story—a script—in six simple movements: Creation, the Fall, Israel, Jesus, the Church, and the New Creation.
With this narrative in place, the reader will then (hopefully) begin to understand how all the little stories of the Bible fit together into a seamless whole. And what’s more important, you will be compelled to step into the drama as a part of its performance.
That’s what Long Story Short all about.
Long Story Short by Josh McNall is perfect for:
1) Newcomers classes 2) College or Young Adult Ministry 3) Home groups 4) Neighborhood Bible studies 5) Sunday School. As you walk through this book, you will: Learn the big story of Scripture as a seamless whole; engage with a highly readable book; be challenged to think about familiar stories of the Bible in fresh ways. “Joshua McNall in his engaging and witty little book Long Story Short, can help you understand the storied world in and of the Bible, and perhaps more importantly help you understand how actually you are in the story, and you must embrace it as yours.” (Dr. Ben Witherington III) Get the book from our store here.