Story. The Antidote To Foundationalism

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

God's <abbr>EPIC</abbr> AdventureStory has become fashionable to write about in the two or so recent decades. William Bausch says in the introduction to his book, Storytelling, “We are creatures who think in stories,” but have been trained to think in propositions. [ref]William J. Bausch, Storytelling: Imagination and Faith 9).[/ref]

Propositional thinking has caused us to reduce the text of Scripture from an overarching Story with many smaller stories to a set of propositions to believe. In the book Why Narrative? Stanley Hauerwas states, “In recent years appeals to ‘narrative’ and to ‘story’ have been increasingly prominent in scholarly circles, to the delight of some, the consternation of others, and the bewilderment of many. Such appeals have caused delight in that narrative and story to appear to provide a cure, if not a panacea, to a variety of Enlightenment illnesses: rationalism, monism, decisionism, objectivism, and other “isms,”[ref]Stanley Hauerwas, and L. Gregory Jones, Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology. 1.[/ref] and one might add fragmentary-ism.

Story. The Design God Picked to Call Us to Our Vocation.

It seems that story, [ref]Tom Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God. 19.[/ref] not proposition is the design God picked to call us to our vocation: partnering with him in the redemption of his creation. The Story of Scripture is a continual Story beginning with Creation and moving toward the New Creation, although somewhat chopped up in the way our printed Bibles present the texts to us in its canonical form. It is not my purpose to resolve the question: Does inspiration include the form of canonization that we have in our modern Bibles? The short answer is: the form of the canon is an effort by humans to ratify what the church in the first three centuries thought to be in or out. The overall form is somewhat chronological in sequence, i.e., Gospels (the life and ministry of Jesus); Acts (the life and ministry of the church); Letters (the problems of the church presented in an ad hoc way listing Paul’s letters from largest to smallest with one exception and then the letters not from Paul); finally, Revelation (the consummation of the Kingdom). However, the overall form is not chronological to the time of writing in which the letters of Paul would have come to first. More information on canonical formation can be found in the [ref]Porter, S. E., & Evans, C. A. “Canonical Formation of the New Testament” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.[/ref] Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).

We live in the present part of the Story and are connected to the previous episodes of the Story while moving toward its conclusion. Why is story important? To begin to answer that question we shall look at several authors to help us understand the concept of why story is the possible antidote to foundationalism’s fragmentized reading of Scripture.

Every day from the tic of birth to the tock of death [ref]Richard L. Morgan, Saving Our Stories (Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 1999), 1.[/ref] we write our own stories, maybe not in print, but nevertheless written in our lives. If they are not saved they will be forever lost.

Once I was creating a TV teaching script for my employer. I was using a computer; this was before personal desktops could be found everywhere. I was using a word processing program that was created by a friend of mine that was used on large computer systems. He had trained me to use the program. I had just added the finishing touch to the script when someone flipped the power off in the office that I was working in. In just a flash of the moment, everything that I had created was gone. Stories can be like that.

While our stories may get lost from time to time, God’s Story has survived for several millennia for followers of Jesus to read, hear, and see, so we can learn to live within the Story. We may need to learn to apply ourselves to the Story rather than the other way around: applying the Bible to our worldview.[ref]William C. Placher, “Paul Ricoeur and Postliberal Theology: A Conflict of Interpretations?,” Modern Theology 4, no. 1 (1987): 42.[/ref]

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)