Some years ago I conducted an informal test on a group of teenagers in a Sunday school class. They had all been raised in Christian homes and attended church and Sunday school from an early age. My instruction was simple: Write down what you think the book of Romans is all about.
The answers startled me. One said “It is about the life of Roman”. Another said: “It is about Romania and the people who live there”. And so it went on. Not a single one out of a group of nearly ten children could give me a correct answer. Yet these teenagers had attended Sunday school since early childhood.
Strangely, these kids could tell me about the book of Jonah, and about Noah and the ark, and about David and Goliath, and (sigh of relief) about Jesus. But when it came to Romans they were dumbstruck.
Since then I have repeated the exercise in different settings and with different people, and my experience has mostly been the same: Christians generally (there are exceptions, but they are few and far between) don’t know too much about Romans, but are usually well versed in the stories of the Old Testament and the gospels.
For the simple reason that our brains remember stories much better than mere facts. In a nutshell, we have “narrative brains” (no pun intended).
Ever wondered why the greatest Teacher of all times used stories to tell us about God?
Ever wondered why the God of the universe used a story to teach us about his Son?
Ever wondered why the Christian life was foreshadowed in the Old Testament through stories?
God clearly knows something about stories that we have either forgotten or chosen to ignore. Stories are God’s vehicles to turn “words” into “flesh.” Through them the “abstract” becomes “concrete.” They are “incarnational”, that is, they embody, personify and manifest those things that we struggle to wrap our minds around.
All of this raises an interesting (and rather obvious) question: Is it possible to turn the book of Romans into a story and make it just as memorable as all the other stories in the Bible?
The answer is yes, and the Romans: The Big Picture project is dedicated to doing just that. The picture on the Home page represents a visual narrative of the book of Romans, and has been designed according to an age old memory trick called a “memory palace” or an “architectural mnemonic.” This method of memorization is the favourite one of world memory champions, and is known as the “method of loci.” More commonly, it is referred to as the “journey method” of studying.
As I mentioned in this post, a student of Paul’s letter to the Romans must be allowed to somehow “enter” the story of Romans, to become one with it, to travel through its chapters in the very way one would walk through the city of Rome.
That’s the exact intention of this blog. I hope you will join me as we travel through Romans!
Blessings in Christ,
Back to Home Page