Five Key Themes From Scripture

An excerpt from “The Quick Reference Guide to the Catholic Bible”

Five Key Themes From Scripture

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Although there are seventy-three books in the Bible, certain themes unify the Scriptures.

There is one God who is the Creator and Redeemer, who is both transcendent (almighty, omnipotent, all-knowing) and immanent (personal, caring, accessible to all who have faith). The history of the covenants reveals to us a God who wills a relationship with human beings and who is faithful even when people are not. Jesus came as a human being to teach us the ways of God. All of the previous means of coming to know God pale in comparison to the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ.

Human life is blessed by the Creator with dignity and authority. All creation is good and is intended by God for the good of humankind. Since life is sacred, human beings partner with God in the responsibility to respect, preserve, and maintain not only physical life but the life of the spirit as well.

Human beings are sinful and require God’s grace to live well, to do good, to help others, and to help better the world. The story of creation reveals order in God’s design for the world. Human beings sinned and disrupted this God-ordained order, and all creation has been harmed by their disobedience. Theologians later called this “original sin.” The story of the covenants reveals a humanity that repeatedly sins and a God who faithfully comes to their rescue. The Bible illustrates time and again that when people turn back to God, they are forgiven and restored. God showers humanity with gifts; in return, we are called to offer our prayers of adoration, petition, repentance, and thanksgiving as expressions of our faith, our trust, our gratitude, and our reliance on God.

God is the Lord of history who invites us to everlasting life. Most of the stories in the Bible have a historical basis, but our interest in them goes far beyond simple curiosity about the past. Stories such as the exodus function as a paradigm illustrating our personal spiritual journey to God and life with God forever. Elements of this paradigm include slavery, liberation, and celebration. The Bible teaches us that just as God loves us into being, God rescues us from sin, forgives us, reconciles us to himself, and restores us to new life. The Bible uses multiple terms for God’s mercy and grace, speaking of our “redemption,” our “justification,” and our “salvation.” Time and again we are shown that God comes to our aid, healing us and restoring us to wholeness, thus enabling us to become the creation we were meant to be.

We are called as individuals and as a community to life in this world and after death. The Bible urges us to be filled with faith, hope, and love. We see in the lives of the holy men and women whose stories are recorded in the books of the Bible our calling to share our own experience, strength, and hope with others and to encourage ourselves and others on the journey to God, which we believe gives meaning to human life. And we believe that, above all, this life on earth is more than it seems—it is only the beginning of life. We are called to the fullness of life we can find only in God.

This article is excerpted from A Quick Reference Guide to the Catholic Bible by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan, which is available from the Word Among Us Press.