Category Archives: Metanarrative

How The West Lost Its Story

“The entire project of the Enlightenment was to maintain realist faith while declaring disallegiance from the God who was that faith’s object. . . . Modernity was defined by the attempt to live in a universal story without a universal storyteller.”

– Robert W. Jenson, “How The World Lost Its Story,” First Things (October 1993).

The Point of The Story Has Been Disclosed

“All telling of history is, of course, selective. No history is written except on the basis of judgments about what is significant. No ‘facts of history’ exist, except in so far as what happened was judged significant. The recorded facts will vary according to the judgement of what is significant, and that in turn depends upon what the ‘point’ of the story is. Normally we do not see the point of a story until the end. But we are not in a position to see the end of the cosmic story. The Christian faith is the faith that the point of the story has been disclosed: the ‘end’ has been revealed in the middle. The point of the story is not the triumph of human technology over nature, nor the cyclical rise and fall of civilizations. There is one human family and it has one centre, Jesus Christ, one history, the history of the making of faithful relationships with its maker. To accept that means to live as part of a potentially universal community, looking towards a consummation whose character has been revealed in Jesus Christ, and of which we have already a foretaste in his risen Body.”

~ Lesslie Newbigin, “Our Missionary Responsibility In The Crisis Of Western Culture”

The Cosmic Story

“The Bible is an interpretation of universal history as the history of the divine enterprise of creating faithful relationships, covenant relationships between God and his creatures, God and the human family, faithful relationships between persons and peoples founded on the covenant faithfulness of God. It has the whole cosmos as its theme. It sets the human story within the context of the cosmic story. It has its centre and turning point in the death and resurrection of Him who is the word of God, through whom all things came to be and are. It looks towards a consummation, which is beyond history and which yet gathers up all that has been wrought through history.”

~ Lesslie Newbigin, “Our Missionary Responsibility In The Crisis Of Western Culture”

Narrative, Meaning & the Purpose of Learning

“Without a narrative, life has no meaning. Without meaning, learning has no purpose. Without a purpose, schools are houses of detention, not attention.”

– Neil Postman, The End of Education (New York, NY: Vantage Books, 1995), 7.

Story-shaped Faith

“Human beings are story-shaped creatures. We are born into stories, raised in stories, and live and die in stories. Whenever we have to answer a big question — who am I, why am I here, what should I do, what happens to me when I die? — we tell a story. The Ur-story, the foundational story, is the story of God’s love for creation, and all other stories are to be measured against it. The single best way of conceiving of faith, and of a faithful life, is as a story in which you are a character. Your life task is to be a character in the greatest story every told. It is what you were created for.

If faith were primarily an idea, the intellect alone might be adequate for dealing with it. Since it is instead a life to be lived, we need story. Story, as does life, engages all of what we are — mind, emotions, spirit, body. Faith calls us to live a certain way, not just to think in a certain way. It is no surprise, then, that the central record of faith in human history opens with an unmistakable story signature: ‘In the beginning . . . ”

~ Daniel Taylor, “Story-shaped Faith” from The Power of Words and the Wonder of God eds. John Piper and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2009), 105-106.

The Enlightenment as Christian Heresy

“One way of understanding [the Enlightenment] is to think of it as a Christian heresy. What Christian faith had offered was retained while the Source from which that offer had been made was rejected. The prerogatives that had belonged to God did not simply disappear; now they reappeared in human beings. The revelation he had given now reappeared in the form of natural reason, which would do what revelation had done but without the discomfort of requiring humanity to submit to God from whom the revelation had come; the idea of salvation was retained but transformed into the drive for human perfectibility, at first achieved by moral striving and then, as we know it today, by psychological technique; grace became effort; the life of faith became the hope of personal growth; and eschatology became progress (what Lord Acton called the religion of those who have none).”

~ David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Powers (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2005), 30.

The Biblical Story Encompasses All of Reality

“The biblical story encompasses all of reality – north, south, east, west, past, present, future. It begins with the creation of all things and ends with the renewal of all things. In between it offers an interpretation of the meaning of cosmic history. It, therefore, makes a comprehensive claim; our stories, our reality must find a place in this story.”

~ Michael Goheen, “Reading the Bible as One Story