Telling Stories



My friend Matt has been blogging about how postmodernism, with its openness to narrative, is a great opportunity for the gospel. But evangelicals need to sort themselves out first. Otherwise, to the world, they are just a bunch of Patsys. Patsy Biscoes that is.

The big problem is the fact that many evangelicals plainly do not believe the “stories” in the Bible. Compromised with the world’s academia, they lose any real authority to share these “stories” with any gravity whatsoever. Can you imagine any of the patriarchs sharing “stories” around the fire and qualifying it with “but this is just a true myth.” No wonder evangelicalism is a laughing stock to its vocal, “enlightened” opponents.

Then we have the gooey emergents on the other end, who love stories but whether or not they have any basis in reality is irrelevant.

Gnostics on the right. Gnostics on the left. Western Christianity is given the status of ideology and nothing more. And yet God still works in it by His Spirit. “Lord, forgive our arrogant, apostate, vaccillating, intellectualised, world-pleasing unbelief. It must be a stink in your nostrils.”

James Jordan recently wrote:

“This is just plain sad. A few shards and fragments from the ancient world are blown up into a whole system of thought that contradicts the Bible, and evangelicals then buy into it. It may be time for serious Christians to pack it in as far as the evangelical scholarly world is concerned. We can learn from them here and there, just as we learn from Jews and liberals here and there. But unless it shapes up, the future does not lie with this compromised religion.” [1]

Telling stories when we ourselves are not sure of their validity is not the best way to share the faith. It is an embarrassment. It’s a good thing the pomos will go for the story regardless. We need the narratives, but we also need rigorous faith-filled scholarship. Patsy Biscoe’s faith puts the faith of many scholars to shame.

Matt comments:

That’s why I love Tom Wright. He hasn’t hidden behind the pulpit, nor retreated into the academy. he straddles both worlds with a vigorous Christ centered scholarship. he truly believes the narrative of the bible, and is concerned hold theology and history together, without it slipping into just mythology.

Better get a better metanarrative

Matt also writes concerning the relationship between modernism and postmodernism:

…the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Postmodernism declares that all such large stories — “metanarratives” — are destructive and enslaving, and must be deconstructed. The pomo attack on gospel-denying modernism is useful for us. Postmodernism is a necessary critique of modernity. But the current problem is that though the postmodern turn in philosophy and culture has sneered at the great modernist imperial dream, it hasn’t been able to shake it. We live in a time where modernity and postmodernity refer not so much to a datable chronological period but more to two different moods and controlling narratives. Our world is both modern and postmodern. And I don’t see this changing for sometime. We can not go back to being just modern. And could postmodernism survive without the thing is it critiquing? The two ideas have become utterly dependent on each other.

Modernism, like feminism and communism, simply replaced the old exploitation with a new exploitation. Postmodernism doesn’t even have this to offer. Postmodernism is not a system in itself. It is just a critique, which is why it can’t “shake off” modernism. Pomo is helpful in exposing the cracks in modernism so we can inject the gospel, the only true builder of cultures.

The foundation of modernism is evolution, and the currently popular history of “ancient man”. Until this is thrown out, Western Christianity is still stuck within a modernist metanarrative, and can only ever be a manmade ideology. [2]

[1] James Jordan, Did God Speak Hebrew to Adam, Biblical Horizons #209.
[2] See also The Only True Foundation for Anthropology

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4 Responses to “Telling Stories”

  • Matthew Moffitt Says:

    Is the foundation of modernism evolution? Or is the other way round – the foundation of evolution modernism?

    Evolution is clearly an idea of its time. Modernity is all about progress, so in one sense it’s hardly surprising that science came up with a doctrine that’s about progress.

    My other thought is that if we wait for evangelicals to get themselves in order (and I would happily call myself an Evangelical) then we’ll be waiting until the cows come home…

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Good point. In that wonderful book by Doug Jones and Doug Wilson, “Angels in the Architecture”, one of the essays suggests that modernism began when the Roman church really began to dominate politically. So I guess that means modernism invented its own foundation.

    Jordan doesn’t think we should wait for the evangelicals, either. He thinks the end of Western Christianity is nigh, so we should be laying foundations for the future right now, and that this is one of the most exciting times to be alive.

  • Matthew Moffitt Says:

    I think the death of Western Christianity is a little bit exaggerated. Anyway, the future has already “been laid”, with the phenomenal church growth in what Chis Wright calls the majority world – the Global South.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    There is always a remnant! I guess he means the future of the west, which still seems to be the source of theological advances – but for how long?