“The Whole Story” – Dr. Janet Dean

September 12, 2016

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things.” – I Peter 1:20

“Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.” – I Timothy 3:16

As I sat listening to Bill’s account of the events that led him to be in prison, I was astonished. How could we allow people to be persecuted like this?  Wanting to help, I turned to the legal records related to his case, and quickly a much different story began to emerge.  The details, the context, all suggested another interpretation of events.  And, surprisingly, neither story was fully complete. 

My first case as a forensic psychologist taught me two very important lessons.  First, the real truth is found in the overarching narrative.  That narrative is often greater than the sum of its details, contexts, and perspectives, and any one of those smaller components, when considered apart from the greater narrative, could be rather misleading.  Secondly, individuals, intentionally or unintentionally, tend to recall only the pieces that paint the “right” story, the one most advantageous to them.

Unfortunately, we too often approach Scripture the same way, fitting pieces of it into our own story while failing to search out the larger, more important story.  The result?  Controversies about various Scripture passages, unhealthy theology, and many other difficulties. The real truth, however, is not found fully in any one verse, not even in John 3:16.  The real truth only is found when we begin to understand the meta-narrative of Scripture, for that’s God’s real story. 


- Dr. Janet Dean, Associate Professor of Psychology

Previous Devotions