On Story: Revelation’s Story


www.oliviamooreart.com Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Let’s consider another story. A very true story. It goes like this.

God created the heavens and the earth. He created out of nothing, indeed, solely by and through his Word, his Logos. And he sustains the world and all its elements by the power of his Word. Everything that is is held together by the will of God expressed through the Logos.

Every molecule, every atom, every proton, and every quark vibrates to a melody being played by God. And he made all things good. Continue reading

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On Story: The Essential Subjectivity of Christianity or Why Christianity Not Lived Is Not Christianity at All

euclidAll reasoning begins with axioms. We assume that syllogisms produce truth. We assume that the world is as we perceive it.

And it’s the nature of logic and reason that they must proceed from axioms. It’s how God made our minds work.

We cannot imagine any other kind of logic. It’s hard-wired in our brains.

Now axioms, by definition, are neither provable nor disprovable. If they could be, they would not be true axioms. This doesn’t mean that they are neither true nor false; just that the truth of the axiom cannot be determined by formal logic.  Continue reading

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On Story: A Critique of the Enlightenment’s Story

enlightenmentAgain, not all Enlightenment ideals are false. Some are only partly false. Some are quite true. Some are true but only if understood in a different context.

The natural human tendency is to be overly binary — that is, to create false dichotomies, going to one extreme or the other. And it’s not a helpful way to think about or to discuss worldviews (or anything else, for that matter).

For example, I’m all in favor of reason. Reason is good.  It’s just that reason can only produce true conclusions if it begins with true axioms. If you start with false assumptions, reason will inevitably produce absurdities.

Just so, while I am a man of faith, I’m also a skeptical person. It’s better than being naive or gullible. I just don’t want to be so skeptical that I can only sneer. And one of the failings of Postmodernity is to leave us with nothing but irony and condescension. Continue reading

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On Story: Postmodernism, Modernism, and the Enlightenment

Story2So here’s the thing. We’re beginning to — finally! — get comfortable with reading the Bible as narrative.

And we’re beginning to see how the Bible further provides a metanarrative that establishes the worldview and values of the Christian.

I know that’s  a mouthful, but think about it. It’s popular for preachers to condemn the Postmodern worldview from their pulpits. And there is much in Postmodernism that merits condemnation — although, as is nearly always true, there are a few things in Postmodernism that are of value.

Wisdom is knowing the difference. Responsible preaching is bothering to know enough about the topic to discern the good from the bad. (Well, I can wish, can’t I?) Continue reading

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On Story: Denouement, Desert, and Faith


  • (RP) IPA: /deˈnuːmɑ̃/
  • (US) IPA: /deɪnuˈmɑnt/, /deɪnuˈmɑ̃/

“Denouement” is a fancy word for the final conclusion, when the climax comes to final resolution.

In a murder mystery, the climax is the moment the detective solves the mystery, or when he finally figures it out. The denouement is when the bad guy is caught. It’s the end of the story when the loose ends have all been neatly tied up and all that went before finally makes perfect sense.

In the Bible, the denouement is the Second Coming of Jesus. It’s when the wicked are judged and sent to destruction, the redeemed are saved and protected from destruction, and God joins heaven and earth to walk with man once again. Continue reading

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On Story: Of Adam, Eve, Conflict, and Climax

Story2The elements of a good story

Let’s take Adam and Eve, Genesis 2 and 3, as an example of a good story.


Every writer knows that a good story has to have certain elements. It has to have characters that we understand. It’s even better if we identify with them. If we can understand Adam and Eve, the story is good. If we identify with Adam and Eve — if we see ourselves in them — then it’s an even better story. Continue reading

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On Story: Of Worldviews and Metanarratives

Story2We’ve talked about stories and story theory before. I hope this isn’t too repetitive. But I’m increasingly finding how very important story is to Christianity. And I’m hoping maybe to tie a few threads together from prior posts to make a point or two.

It could happen.

We need to make a few things clear as we begin. First, by “story” we don’t mean fiction. There are both true stories and made-up stories. Obviously, when we’re discussing scripture, I have in mind a true story. The word “story” does not imply fiction. (Please don’t make me say it again.)

Second, the Bible is tied together by a big story, a story that is told through a series of smaller stories. Each smaller story is the story of a man’s or woman’s interaction with God. And each smaller story gives us a different perspective on God. Each perspective is true — but each perspective is different. Continue reading

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“My Kind of Town … ” Headed to Chicago

In a couple of days, I’ll be headed to Chicago. I’ll be speaking at a convention of the National Association of Bond Lawyers, dealing particularly with chapter 9 bankruptcies — that is, bankruptcies of cities and counties. A timely topic, but not really good Sunday school class material.

I’ll try to keep up via my laptop, and I’ve already posted several posts on the theology of story. But the plan is mainly to eat steak and pizza. I mean, any city famous for steak and pizza is my kind of town.

PS — The posts on story theory will offer as background several lengthy pieces of music, especially the work of Mike Oldfield. Mainly because that’s what I was listening to when I wrote the posts. It’s about one essay per Oldfield album. You don’t have to listen if you don’t want to. But you should.

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A Hospice for Dead Churches

deadchurchPart 1

Ed Stetzer is an expert on church growth and a consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m a fan.

He recently wrote a blog post called “Creating a Hospice Ministry for Churches.” I thought it was about churches providing hospice care for dying people — not a bad idea. But it’s really about hospice care for dying churches.

Thousands of Churches of Christ close their doors every decade. Sometimes the building is sold and the members pocket the money. Really. Sometimes the building is abandoned. Sometimes the members give up and quit church altogether. Sometimes they find another congregation to join. Rarely does a church die well. Continue reading

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The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ — Is There a Third Way?

third-way-300x241A friend of mine from high school popped up here at One In Jesus the other day asking what this “progressive Church of Christ” thing might be. He’s from another Christian tribe. And it’s kinda hard to explain.

I jotted off a response. Here’s a revised version.


Good to hear from you. The Churches of Christ drifted into legalism in the 20th Century after having been a unity movement in the 19th Century. There is now a movement within the Churches to escape fundamentalism/legalism and find a better path. We sometimes call it “progressive,” but it’s a very poor term. I’m continually looking for something better. “Third Way” has recently popped up, and it might catch on. Continue reading

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