Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pomo II

Tell me a Story...

I've been working on my pomo series, which will be continuing soon. As I've been working on it, I've been reminded again about the power of narrative. This has become a well laboured point in recent years. So it's important not to forget juts how much power stories have, especially in a culture that reduces everything to a narrative (and a power play). I hope to blog on this more fully, and I've enjoyed reading about from the likes of Wright, Bauckham and Vanhoozer. Here is Tom Wright making the case again:
“Stories are, actually, peculiarly good at modifying or subverting other stories and their worldviews. Where head-on attack would certainly fail, the parable hides the wisdom of the serpent behind the innocence of the dove, gaining entrance and favour which can then be used to change assumptions which the hearer would otherwise keep hidden away for safety. Nathan tells David a story about a rich man, a poor man, and a little lamb; David is enraged; and Nathan springs the trap. Tell someone to do something, and you change their life-for a day; tell someone a story and you change their life. Stories, in having this effect, function as complex metaphors. Metaphor consists in bringing two set of ideas close together, close enough for a spark to jump, but not too close, so that the spark, in jumping, illuminates for a moment the whole area around, changing perceptions as it does so. Even so, the subversive story comes close enough to the story already believed by the hearer for a spark to jump between them; and nothing will ever be quite the same again” (NTPG, p. 40).
Tell someone to do something, and you change their life-for a day; tell someone a story and you change their life. Taking the time to find the right story takes time and patience and creativity and - dare I say it - faith. But engaging with someone through story and allowing them to make the connections for themselves is the kind of thing that shapes people for life.


Mike Bull said...


Surely the big problem is the fact that many evangelicals plainly do not believe the "stories" in the Bible. Compromised with the world's academia, they lose any real authority to share these "stories" with any gravity whatsoever. Can you imagine any of the patriarchs sharing "stories" around the fire and qualifying it with "but this is just a true myth."

No wonder evangelicalism is a laughing stock to its vocal opponents.

Then we have the gooey emergents on the other end, who love stories but whether or not they have any basis in reality is irrelevant.

Gnostics on the right. Gnostics on the left. Western Christianity is given the status of ideology and nothing more. And yet God still works in it by His Spirit. Lord, forgive our arrogant, apostate, vaccillating, intellectualised, world-pleasing unbelief. It must be a stink in your nostrils.

"This is just plain sad. A few shards and fragments from the ancient world are blown up into a whole system of thought that contradicts the Bible, and evangelicals then buy into it.

It may be time for serious Christians to pack it in as far as the evangelical scholarly world is concerned. We can learn from them here and there, just as we learn from Jews and liberals here and there. But unless it shapes up, the future does not lie with this compromised religion."

-- James Jordan, Did God Speak Hebrew to Adam, Biblical Horizons #209.

Sorry for the rant, but telling stories when we ourselves are not sure of their validity is not the best way to share the faith. It is an embarrassment. It's a good thing the pomos will go for the story regardless.

Anyone who refers to the "Christ-event" implies that this is the only part of the Bible that's actually true.

See: http://www.bullartistry.com.au/wp/2009/04/09/the-christ-event/

We need the narratives, and we need rigorous faith-filled scholarship. This is God's Word.

Matthew Moffitt said...

We need the narratives, and we need rigorous faith-filled scholarship.

That's why I love Tom Wright. He hasn't hidden behind the pulpit, nor retreated into the academy. he straddles both worlds with a vigorous Christ centered scholarship. he truly believes the narrative of the bible, and is concerned hold theology and history together, without it slipping into just mythology.

Mike Bull said...

I agree.

Matthew Moffitt said...

Hey Bully, I found this website recently which might worth checking out.

My post about narrative had in mind our Sydney evangelical culture, which I think is far more likely to teach things just as proposition rather than narrative; and I think is in less danger to teach the bible as myth then some of our brethren round the world.

Mike Bull said...

The site looks good.

While I'm all for this rediscovery of the Covenantal side of the New Testament (have you read my book yet?) I do think there's a tendency to fall off the other side of the horse on the new perspective. See here:

A New Perspective on Sin

I'll give that site some more time, too.