Thinking in process can be dangerous….Well, at least to share those thoughts out loud, because they are still “out there”, without roots. But I guess that depends who you are around. Thinking out loud and in process is not dangerous to everyone, and is quite welcomed by many. I am fortunate to be a part of several communities that allow for thinking out loud, processing, etc. Whether that’s my friends at Fuller Seminary, or my family, or the students in the the ministry I pastor, I am blessed to be able to enter into conversation with them.

I am currently taking Narrative and Family Life in a summer intensive and it is greatly shaping my perspectives on many things. I have been looking forward to this class for a long time because I have been wondering and thinking about the importance of narrative, not only in therapy, but especially in theology. I am frustrated that theology has simply become at times about dissecting a text in order to make propositional statements so that a systematic theology can be developed. And in the process we have forgotten the importance of the story, of the narrative in the text that shaped the lives of the early Christians. The narrative pulled them into the story and history of their people and their God, so that their lives were not divorced from the story. Paul reminds the Corinthians in Chapter 15:3 that he is passing on what he has received, which is the gospel story. In 1 John 1:1-4, John reminds us that we proclaim what has been seen, touched and heard. It is rooted in history. It is rooted in story.

The Bible. Preaching. Teaching. It is simply more than going to a text and pulling out three cool bullet points that we can walk away with. It’s more than using our knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to somehow wow the audience. it’s more than fill in the blanks on a bulletin outline. I’m afraid that we have divorced the Bible from its story. And in the process we divorce our lives from the story.

What is it that we are giving people to shape their lives?

“…a theologian, regardless of the propositional statements he or she may have to make about a community’s convictions, must consciously and continually strive to keep those statements in intimate contact with the narratives which gave rise to those convictions, within which they gain their sense and meaning, and from which they have been abstracted.”
Theology and Narrative: A Critical Introduction by Michael Goldberg

Read Wikipedia’s definition of Narrative theology

Read Alan Jacobs, What Narrative Theology Forgot in First Things.

Read Jesus, God and narrative theology at open source theology.