So, perhaps understanding some of the functions of the Bible-as-foundational-story will help understand more of my meaning. Here are a few rather random outcomes of this idea.
1) The “Christian” book or “non-Christian” book: these labels are not necessary. Never particularly helpful, now we can see story in a new light. A book’s value, therefore, is based on how well it lines up with the Biblical story. Christians can embrace all story, especially that which has its essence nearest to the story of creation, fall, redemption, restoration (to put it very, very succinctly). We can reject certain books on the lines of it’s not a good story because it doesn’t tap into the true essence of story. And, we can embrace so many “secular” books on these lines, because time and time again writers have intuited that the Biblical story is the story that our souls lines up with, even without putting those words to it.
1b) Breaking down story this way means that Christians can best understand any story, because we best understand the full story of human history, and what makes a story either true or good.
2) For the Christian-who-is-a-writer, then, his or her duty is to re-create reality as he or she sees it. That is, he sees reality in the context of the true Biblical story, and he recreates this reality in his writing. Just as you may not be able to tell a Christian from a first meeting, or even a fourth, you may need a variety of writings by one author to tell that he is, indeed, a Christian. But, over time, you see that the full Biblical story has precedence in his writing. Thus, by reading The Heart of the Matter you may not know Graham Greene is a Catholic writer, but the scope of his work gives you a fuller picture of his belief, because his stories match the essence of the Biblical story quite closely.
3) In our postmodern age, we can communicate the gospel via story. Story, as Jesus taught with parables, let’s the individual find his or her own truth: our propositional truths about the gospel, so offensive to society today, aren’t necessary to lead with. Yet, understanding the full story of the gospel, each individual will come, eventually, to quite similar basic truths: the story of creation, fall, humanity’s hopelessness, Jesus’ incarnation and death and resurrection (eucatastrophe) and our hope today both in restoration now and full restoration in the future. By communicating the gospel in this way to culture today, we avoid the propositional truths that many reject, and we let each person get caught up in the story. Not only this, but in many ways the story offers a fuller picture of the gospel than the propositional truths that often have made the gospel an issue only about the future of an individual soul. While it is this, it is much, much more.
3b) Thus, a person who seeks liberation finds it in the Biblical story, but also eventually finds more. A person who seeks healing finds it; a person who seeks love finds it; a person who seeks meaning finds it; a person who seeks hope finds it; a person who seeks community finds it; a person who seeks…you get my drift. Story meets people where they are in an effective way that ideas cannot necessarily, and brings them to a higher place. Story also doesn’t allow half-gospels: liberation theology sees it is only part of the story, as well as the saving of an individual soul, as well as the theology of creation, etc.
Finally, I’m not saying to throw out propositional truth. Rather, propositional truth has its place, but can no longer be given the highest perch if we want to both a) connect to society and b) understand the Biblical story in its fullness. That is, there is a reason why the Bible is primarily story and not propositional truth.
In the next few days, I’ll try to post on “what does all this mean to me, today?”