The imaginative Bible teacher requires a particular sort of humility. Whereas the writer or the poet or artist can create with an almost totally free hand, the Bible teacher does not write the text. So, teaching comes with limitations that frustrate some and in their desire to be creative and not repeat what has been heard over and over again, they fall into the trap of distorting the text in ways never intended. They are fascinating but they mislead and instead of using imagination they create fictions.
We know that Rembrandt, Picasso and Van Gogh all painted over their own masterpieces and produced two masterpieces on the same canvas. But we also know there have been lesser artists who have painted their own second rate work over the masterpieces of others. There are Bible teachers who do the same in their desire to be known as creative and unique. After all, how many different ways can you tell the story of the prodigal son or the fishes and loaves without lapsing into what has been said before? So they paint their own story over the original.
That is not Michael Card.
Mike understands his role differently. It is the role of the one who restores the beauty and intent to the original. Mike’s teaching is like the men and women who have spent decades cleaning Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel. He is not the creator of the text. He is not the writer of the Scripture. He is the one who very carefully but with disciplined imagination peels back and removes the stains, smoke and varnish to reveal the brilliance of what lies beneath and has been there all the time.
William Wordsworth in the Prelude to a book of his poems said, “The principal object, then, proposed in these poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them…in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain coloring of the imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect;”
The art contained in the Bible has become almost too familiar, ordinary and predictable. It’s been reduced to bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets and twitter. That is why we need Mike this week-end coming to us not to paint over a masterpiece but to throw over the texts he has chosen a certain coloring of the imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect.
Please welcome our Bible teacher, Mike Card.