Story 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]