What’s the Story Anyway? A Brief Intro to Narrative Theology

What’s the Story Anyway? A Brief Intro to Narrative Theology June 27, 2012

***Repost from August 2010. I might nuance some things a tad differently now, but the main flow stands.

Many of you have probably heard language on this blog and in the Christian-world about narrative or storied approaches to the bible. In my previous post, I have equipped you with some tools to dig into and “enter” this conversation. I encourage you to read through these books one by one because it will lay a beautiful foundation from which to read and live out the teachings of the Scriptures!

So, what is the story anyway? I have posted this in the past, but think that this can generate some fruitful discussion. I am going to give you my version of the 5 Act approach to the bible that has been developed by N.T. Wright (and adapted by various writers).

Act 1: Creation – God creates the universe and declares it to be “very good.” His creation project is not static, but designed to flourish with humanity as God’s gardener/image bearers. (Genesis 1-2)

Act 2: Crisis – The powers of evil and human rebellion have damaged God’s good world. God doesn’t give up on the creation project at this point, which demonstrates his grace toward what he has created. (Genesis 3-11)

Act 3: Community (Israel) – God calls Abraham to be the beginning of the solution to the problem of sin, by forming a new human family that has been “blessed to be a blessing.” (Genesis 12)

Act 4: Christ – Israel has not lived up to her calling to bless the world, so God sends his Son into the world to be everything that Israel failed to be. Jesus demonstrates the reality of the reign of God and calls disciples to a radical way of living as a counter-cultural community. He is gathering a “new Israel” community that is called to be a blessing in the world, driven by their salvation they receive because of the resurrection of the Messiah! Jesus, through his death and resurrection has defeated all evil powers, satan, and the sin of humanity that put him on the Cross. Jesus invites people to become fully human once again, by become restored to the image of God that was fractured in the crisis of rebellion [Act 2]. (the Gospels)

Act 5: Church – The community that gathers around the risen King Jesus was formed in the first century and has been forming ever sense, to be the “new humanity” that God has always had in mind. This community is an ambassador of grace, justice, and hope for a broken world! (New Testament Writings). But, the critical part is that it does not end there. In act five it seems that we are missing a few scenes (these are the scenes of the narrative that we now improvise in faithfulness to what came before it toward what is to come). And then, the final scene, the new heavens and new earth (meaning “renewed”) are also given to us in scripture. God has not given up on his creation project. He has promised to return one day to renew the cosmos, to bring heaven and earth together, and to rule the world where there is “no longer any morning, crying, or pain.” This will be the ultimate completion of God’s creation project! (Romans 8, Revelation 21-22, Colossians 1)

Well, by no means is the above meant to be exhaustive, but rather to give you some framework for understanding the “big story” of the Bible. Also, just because I failed to mention something that one might consider essential to the story of the Bible, does not mean that I don’t believe such. I would love to hear your thoughts on this!!!!

Browse Our Archives