Exploring How God Teaches Through Adventure and Calls Us to Do the Same, by Bruce Dunning
Adventure is extensively used as a teaching tool throughout the Bible. In God of Adventure Bruce Dunning proposes 19 principles from the Bible that outline the validity, core concepts, and teaching approaches of what is called Christian adventure learning.
From the author:
In theological terms, the Bible is described as being “revealed” and “inspired” by God. The term inspired can be somewhat misleading if we think of it in the same way we would describe an artist being inspired to paint a landscape or a musician being inspired to compose a piece of music. Rather, inspired literally means “God-breathed.” The apostle Paul explained it this way: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
God revealed Himself to ordinary people while, at the same time, allowing these individuals to express their own unique writing style. John MacArthur explains it this way: “Inspiration is tied very closely to another term—revelation. Revelation is God’s revealing of Himself and His will. Inspiration is the way in which He did it. To reveal Himself God used human beings who wrote the Old and New Testaments in order to set down in exact and authoritative words the message that God wanted us to receive.”5
Obviously not every topic is discussed in the Bible. Rather, universal truths about God and His creation (including man) are clearly explained, and every principle that we need to live rightly before God is revealed in Scripture. Scripture reveals timeless principles that can be applied to life today. One of these principles is that adventure is a legitimate teaching tool that both God and other leaders throughout Scripture have successfully used down through the ages.
In developing this thesis, I could immediately recall some obvious examples of adventure in the Bible, such as David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lion’s den, but I knew that amore thorough, systematic study would be needed to develop a summary of biblical adventure principles.
As a result, I used a combination of my existing knowledge of the Bible and my experiences in life to establish a list of criteria that could be used to research the entire Bible. Biblical examples had to meet each of the criteria in order to be included in the research.
The criteria were,
1. A leader must set up a task or experience. It must specifically say through the recorded words of the leader or comments from the book’s author that the leader set it up. God could always be viewed as “leader” because He is sovereign and in control of everything, but these types of examples were not generally included. Some examples of implied leaders were also found. Self-leadership is often implied where a leader seems to just decide to do an adventure; however, these implied examples of self-leadership were also not included since, for a believer, God is present in every decision.
2. The outcome of the experience must be uncertain. The essence of adventure is being unsure of the outcome of the experience.
3. There is risk for the participant. Risk must involve the potential for real loss. The risk needs to be in actually doing the task or experience (obedience) and not primarily in not doing the task or experience (disobedience). Sometimes the risk is more perceived than actual. When God is leader there is always spiritual risk in disobeying. Note: The word risk is from an Italian word risco, which means to dare. The American Heritage Dictionary defines risk as “the possibility of suffering harm or loss.” The word was first used of sailors and tradesmen in Italy and Spain from the fifteenth century.
4. The concept of risk first appeared in the Renaissance mercantile world, in which sailors had to take risk, owners wanted to insure their ships and merchandise, and bankers wish to minimize losses. From here the word slowly moved into everyday language, first in the sixteenth century into the Romance languages and only later into the German and English languages, where it soon settled down in the world of gambling and strategic warfare.6
5. The experience must be designed for positive learning. The motive of the leader is often not specifically stated, so the criterion often used here is the general context.
In the end, I found 105 Bible stories that I believe met these criteria.
Right from the first chapter of the Bible I was confronted with considering whether God would count as an example of being the leader of an experience. At first this seemed odd, but upon further reflection it seemed quite natural. It only makes sense that the Creator of the universe leads and controls everything within it. Almost half of the examples included God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as the identified leader. In addition, over 30 percent included God as leader with a human leader also involved. This multi-level leadership is addressed in Principle 8.
It should also be noted that most of the examples do not reveal what the leader is thinking in setting up the task or experience. One must try to infer from the context of the story what the leader was hoping to accomplish.
The ideas summarized in this book clearly form a biblical foundation for adventure as a significant tool to encourage transformation in people. Each chapter includes the following:
1. An introduction explaining a principle of biblical adventure.
2. Research highlights providing a few biblical examples of the adventure principle.
3. Implications to consider in light of the adventure principle.
4. Questions for further reflection.
5. A final section called “Digging Deeper” for those wishing to explore a more extensive list of biblical examples.
Note: The appendix at the end of the book provides a detailed table of all the biblical examples that met the research criteria.
It is my hope that reading and studying these biblical examples and the ideas that come from them will motivate you to apply them to your ministry and your life. As Jesus said in His prayer for His disciples, past and present, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Consider the truth that adventure is God’s idea and that the God of the Bible is a God of adventure.