"One of the most powerful
ways to deepen our connections is the practise of
storytelling as a corporate spiritual
discipline." -- Shane Hipps, 2005
press (15th century) successfully turned the
western Church into a repository of doctrines,
dogmas, policies, procedures, and propositions
over the last 500 years. Systematic theology
flourished after the Reformation (16th
century). Increasingly linear, rational, and analytical thought
corresponded with the rise of moveable type. And in
such an environment we learned to defend the faith,
argue for it, categorize it, classify it,
exegete it, and surgically dissect it.
times are changing.
As a college student, I
well recall hearing that we cannot -- indeed
must not -- seek truth in the narratives
or stories of Scripture. They serve a purpose, but
not to prove anything. If we want airtight
arguments and valid proofs to convince skeptics of
the faith, we should appeal to the "teaching"
sections of the New Testament.
No wonder that for
centuries the Apostle Paul has usurped Jesus as
the Master Teacher.
carefully craft Statements of Faith -- each word
specifically chosen for its accuracy and clarity,
saying neither too little nor too much. But the
emerging generation has little interest in
theological legal-ese. They respond more to
Stories of Faith with all the ambiguity,
open-endedness, and mystery that good stories
We cannot reduce life to neat
packages of truisms. It remains dynamic,
unpredictable, emotion-laden, and relational. Why would we
try to shrink God and His Word into
defined systems of
some folk still like propositional
truth (bullet-point statements that make a case and
close the loop-holes), emerging believers have far
greater interest in narrative truth (what we learn
by listening to stories about God). In
such a context, apologists become like
fire extinguishers: always good to have one "just in case" but
not used very often.
This cultural shift calls us
to new ways
-- Jesus ways -- of expressing truth and reality.
Our own stories of authentic encounter with Christ
will carry more weight than our opinion about
Him or a collection of verses about Him.
Describing our faith will become the best
presentation of the faith. Touching the
heart with real experiences will prove more
effective than reaching the head with a series of
has generally encouraged private faith, something
to believe not something to live.
Furthermore, propositions tend to form closed systems and
isolate us from each other based on the
system we accept. The rise of denominationalism and
sectarianism in Christianity has coincided with increasingly sophisticated propositional
Narrative truth, on the
other hand, encourages community. It engages us in
something incomplete and in process, a story
without an ending but with meaning and direction.
Therein lies our hope for the unity of the Church
and the salvation of the world.
May our stories emerge
more often and include Christ more
In HOPE -