Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's the Story

This blog relates to my world at Laidlaw College. At College we love now to talk about the Bible as 'one story' starting at creation, centred on Christ, and ending in the renewed earth. This was a great idea when it really started to take off because it pulled together the disparate parts of the Bible into one flowing narrative. This is good. It is important. It is one important element in biblical interpretation.

The problem is with the term 'story.' I am so sick of it! Everytime I hear it I groan. A few years ago the same thing happened with the word 'journey.' So, I have been thinking. How else can we say it. Here are some ideas: a narrative; an epic; a symphony; a drama; a saga; an account; a chronicle; a tale; a record; a history; a movie. So people of God, try and be creative. I am not sure all these work as well as the other, but surely we can speak in different ways.

There is another problem with 'story'. I tested this with a few friends recently and they all agreed that 'story' can have the sense of 'fiction', 'fairy-tale', not true. That being said, we need to really take care here.

So, to the 7 people who read this blog, let's get creative and use a variety of means to describe the oneness of the Scriptures... please! Cause its driving me up the wall!


Anonymous said...

I like the picture of a Celtic knot, all those interwoven strands which can be so hard to follow with no real beginning or end, yet when we stand back we can see the wondrous design of the Creators hand!

Anonymous said...

Another picture; think of one of those big ropes that they tie ships to wharfs with (hawsers?). Think how all the strands overlap and intertwine to give it extra strength that would not be possible individually, those strands are the lives of all the saints (the church) but that combined extra strength comes from the Gospel that joins us all together.

(and if you look at the individual strands you will see that they to are made up of smaller strands still, all bound together by love)

Scott said...

Amen. I think the notion of story is actually inadequate for what we are presented in the scriptures aswell. Not only does it have fictional overtones but the bible is in many parts not story. It is poetry, wisdom, apocalyptic, prophecy etc. It is in fact quite a large portion of the bible which has no explicit narrative function. Story can lead to a false understanding of the nature of the scriptures themselves. While we must remember there is a redemptive-historical flow, this does not mean everything is a story. From a systematic theological point of view aswell I find the language troubling. Too many systematic theologians recently have used the notion of narrative, history, story or whatever to justify a theological system which historicises God's eternal being by making it contingent upon his acts within the story. And people can read them and think that this is a good thing because they use the language of narrative, but in reality they are doing a great deal of harm. See Pannenberg, Jenson, Moltmann etc. So I agree, keep the idea, but rethink the language.

Myk Habets said...

I wrote about narrative and story and drama in a recent Stimulus article and tried to show the usefulness and limitations of the term. I like the title of a recent work by Murphy 'God is Not a Story!' Nice. Sadly the actual book was so hard to read and boring I didn't make it very far through it.