Here’s how he opens his reflection, before offering his thoughtful, and indeed, useful critiques, ones with which I largely agree:
“In an article in the latest edition of Christianity Today (“The Gospel Is More Than a Story: Rethinking Narrative and Testimony”) Leslie Fields examines the current preference expressed by many evangelicals for narrative over doctrine. She offers by way of evidence a statement made by Derek Flood in a Huffington Post article: “Christian faith is not primarily about arguing over right beliefs and doctrines, it is about letting the story of God’s grace become our story and shape our lives.” Evangelicals are falling over each other these days in their enthusiasm to insert their beliefs into the wide-open space between once-upon-a-time and happy-ever-after. Indeed we are.
Fields acknowledges in general terms the importance of narrative for the construction of Christian identity. She notes that our culture is ‘saturated with “the power of story”’. But she is concerned that the “rise of narrative in our culture and our churches, for all its good, has a dark understory”, because our culture has dismissed the “One Story” in favour of a rampant narrative pluralism:
Language and narrative now are used not to discover meaning imbedded in creation by an omnipotent Creator. Instead, they are used to create personal and subjective meanings in the face of non-meaning.
The problem we have is that believers are “increasingly accommodating the culture’s counter stories, its plots of consumerism, idolatry, and self-fulfilment”. Why? Because they simply don’t know “God’s master story”. The situation has not been helped by bad habits of Christian instruction, but the underlying problem was identified by Hans Frei in The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (1980): enlightenment modes of thought have led to the fragmentation of knowledge. The result? We cannot see the wood for the trees. Or the trees for the branches. Or the branches for the leaves.
To this extent, in Fields’ analysis, the turn to narrative has been all to the good…”
You can feel the “but” coming, can’t you…? Read the rest of Andrews post here.