Last week I reflected on how we live out of defining stories that we constantly rehearse. These stories are based on experiences and are the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world. Our stories can be true, false, or probably in most cases, somewhere in between.
This week I want to share a fabulous quote from James K. A. Smith about the “narrative character of our faith” from the book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?
The following excerpt articulates why we named our faith community Storyline, why instead of a “statement of faith” we share the story of God, why we use the lectionary to guide our worship gatherings, and how God’s story is the definitive story that shapes disciples of Jesus.
…Too many Christians have bought into the modernist valorization of scientific facts and end up reducing Christianity to just another collection of propositions. Our beliefs are encapsulated in “statements of faith” that simply catalog a collection of statements about God, Jesus, the Spirit, sin, redemption, and so on. Knowledge is reduced to biblical information that can be encapsulated and encoded….
….But isn’t it curious that God’s revelation to humanity is given not as a collection of propositions or facts but rather within a narrative–a grand, sweeping story from Genesis to Revelation? Is there not a sense in which we’ve forgotten that God’s primary vehicle for revelation is a story unfolded within the biblical canon?
….Why is narrative important, and how does it differ from propositional knowledge? First, narrative is a more fully orbed means of communication (and hence revelation), activating the imagination and involving the whole person in a concrete world where God’s story unfolds. Second, Christian faith–unlike almost any other world religion (with the exception of Judaism)–is not a religion simply of ideas that have been collected. The faith is inextricably linked to the events and story of God’s redemptive action in the world….The notion of reducing Christian faith to four spiritual laws signals a deep capitulation to scientific knowledge….
.…Crucial for our discipleship and formation is being able to write ourselves into the story of God’s redeeming action in the world–being able to find our role in the play, our character in the story. To do that, we need to know the story, and that story should be communicated when we gather as the people of God, that is, in worship.
In your experience, what are effective ways of locating ourselves within God’s story?