Monday, November 06, 2006

Story and Truth Telling

John Eldredge in his little book Epic quotes Neil Postman (Science and the Story That We Need):

“In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require. Its story of our origins and our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory. To the question, ‘How did it all begin?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.”
More than facts and figures or philosophies and propositions what people need is a story. A story which will help them make sense of their lives and gives them a purpose for their life.

For all the good science has given us through out the years it has failed to deliver what most people hoped that it would: answers to life's toughest questions. Science can dissect things and explain why things work the way they do, but science is incapable of telling us why these things are here. Science can help us count the stars, but can't tells us why the stars are there. Science can explain what life needs to survive, but not why life is even here in the first place. The answers provided by science mean little when there is no hope for tomorrow.

Part of the reason our culture shifted from a modern mind set, with its foundation being the scientific method, to a post-modern mind set, with its foundation being relativistic experience, is because of science’s failure to answer the deepest questions people have. Science can give us drugs to feel better, give us technology to make our lives easier, and provide theories on how the universe works, but it can’t provide us meaning for our lives. Divorced from it’s theologically underpinnings, science has proven to be of little help in our journey to understand “why?”.

For centuries it has been story, myth, and legend which have helped people understand their place in universe. The modern person believed they had come to a place where they were above all the superstitions of the primitive person. He turned his back on the stories and only to discover that science was unable to answer his questions. He was left without hope and without meaning.

Yes, I agree that stories seem to be a strange place to discover the meaning of life, except for the fact God decided to communicate to people through story. The Bible is ultimately the story of God working throughout history. The Church is God’s story as He continues to work in this world.

The modern person missed out on so much of what the Bible said because, like any good scientist, they dissected it into parts. Parts of it were taught and preached, but often the whole was forgotten. The preacher focused on a proposition or a truth, rather than the whole story of God.

If we are going to touch the post-modern person we have to go back to the story. The post-modern has already experienced the failure of science. They are tired of proclamations of fact and philosophies. They want something that will give their lives meaning and bring hope to their hearts. They are bored of the technology and long for transformation.

So Joshua called together the twelve men and told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, ‘What to these stones mean to you?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s covenant went across.’ These stone will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel” (Joshua 4:4-7; NLT).
Throughout the Old Testament we read similar things, about people setting up reminders of what God had done. From these stone memorials to the ceremonies and traditions of Ancient Israel came opportunities to tell the Story of God to the next generation.

If we hope to impact this generation then we need to stop looking at the Bible as a text book providing us with information for more effective living and start using the Bible to tell people God's story. How do you communicate to Truth to people who have harden their heart to truth? You tell them a story and allow the Holy Spirit to come through the back door of their heart with the truth they so desparately need to hear.

2 comments:

Jon said...

On Sunday we talked about how important it was to keep telling the stories of our lives and of scripture to our children. There is a thread that runs through the Exodus--God reminding Israel over and over to "keep telling what I did for you to the next generation. Celebrate these events--don't forget."

The sad final chapter to the lives of these people comes in Judges 2:

The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten, and they buried him ...After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

Amazing. They didn't know Jehovah, why? I'm sure they knew His name. But they didn't know what He had done for Israel!

I don't think it's a stretch to say that a generation forgot to tell the stories to the kids around the campfire. It's the best time and the best way to plant seeds of faith and admiration for the God we serve.

Paul said...

Jon,
You spoke to my heart when you wrote:
tell the stories to the kids around the campfire. There is something that is missed when we sit on the couch and watch a story rather than sitting in a circle telling stories.

Our Identity

{Philippians 1:1-2; NLT}   This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God's holy people i...