Archive for September, 2007

Knowing the Biblical Storyline, Postmodernism, and Metanarratives

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This post will be a book recommendation along with three particularly good excerpts. I’ll include some thoughts they sparked on the importance of thinking about the gospel in terms of the Bible’s overarching storyline–or in other words, in terms of the overarching storyline of human history. (This indicates some potential weaknesses of Four Spiritual Laws-type approaches, with post-moderns in particular.)

Last week I received my copy of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, edited by D.A. Carson. It came out of a conference held in 1998 at Trinity Evangelical School; each of the speakers contribute a chapter based on his message. Carson says in the preface:

We decided that anyone invited to speak at the conference must be actively engaged in evangelism. This was not the sort of conference where we wanted mere theoreticians, no matter how capable. We also decided that we needed not only to hear thoughtful cultural analysis but also to probe some of the most important turning points of biblical theology, to listen to the experiences of those who are proving fruitful in contemporary evangelism, and to glean something from those who are thinking hard both strategically and practically.

Based on the first five chapters, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in postmodernism and evangelism. (Really, I recommend it if you’re concerned about witnessing to anyone in our culture, postmodern as it is.) The chapters are relatively short and self-contained, so it’s something you can tackle at your leisure piece-by-piece. The level of the essays vary; some are at a high academic level, others are more accessible. But all are written somewhat as introductions. (If you don’t already have some familiarity with postmodernism, I would recommend starting by listening to at least the first of three talks given by Carson in a series on the subject.)

One must-read (and short) chapter is Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All, by James W. Sire. That’s the title of a presentation he’s given at many universities, and in his essay he explains the layout of his presentation and how it usually goes. I think it looks powerfully effective for getting people to a point where they’ll look into Christianity for themselves. (more…)