So I’ve been wandering all over the intellectual plain to say this: We need a better story.
Our churches need better stories. And we individually and as families need better stories.
We church leaders need to learn how to tell better stories — and how to inhabit the stories of our listeners so we can help them find their own better stories.
If God made us to be relational beings, defined far more by whom we love and who loves us than by what we know, we need to learn to communicate in our relational, story-driven world.
The truth, though, is that most of us are so consumed with Enlightenment thought that when it’s time to lead a church through change or to persuade our own children to change, we can only manage to express ourselves syllogistically — that is, logically. And we are all quite good at building a logical case for whatever we want. That’s how American schools teach us to think. Continue reading
I give myself away, I’m sure, as a mathematician by training. That’s my undergraduate degree, and the emphasis was on theoretical mathematics — the best kind. And so I know that logic and reason necessarily trace back to certain starting assumptions — axioms — that cannot themselves be proven or even tested except for consistency. Continue reading
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
All 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
Again, 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
So 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
- (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
The 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
We’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
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.