|Detroit Public Library|
Stories more easily stay in me than logical arguments. I value logic. I like formulating and evaluating arguments. I taught logic and critical thinking for seventeen years at Monroe County Community College. But I remember a good story after the first hearing.
Eugene Peterson, in Subversive Spirituality, reasons that stories are revolutionary and subversive precisely because they are so memorable. A story can get inside a person and, like a Trojan horse, capture a human heart from the inside.
Like N. T. Wright and many others, Peterson sees the Bible as essentially a story that conveys truth. "The Bible as a whole comes to us in the form of a narrative." (5)
A tale, replete with fire and wind, signifying truth.
For example, it is within a "large, sprawling narrative" that Mark writes his Gospel. (Note: compare Peterson with N.T. Wright's The Last Word, and the Bible as a "5-Act Play.")
Stories convey truth in ways prose and sheer logical arguments cannot. I teach logic to undergraduates, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about. Peterson writes:
"Storytelling creates a world of presuppositions, assumptions, and relations into which we enter. Stories invite us into a world other than ourselves, and, if they are good and true stories, a world larger than ourselves. Bible stories are good and true stories, and the world that they invite us into is the world of God's creation and salvation and blessing." (5)
Stories master us, rather than us mastering them.
The biblical story (the Wrightian "Grand Narrative") is "large" and "capacious." That is, the biblical narrative has "great containing capacity." Within this capacious story "we learn to think accurately, behave morally, preach passionately, sing joyfully, pray honestly, obey faithfully." (5)
Dare not to abandon the story! Do so and you've reduced "reality to the [meagre, non-capacious] dimensions of our minds and feelings and experience." (5)
Peterson writes: "The moment we formulate our doctrines, draw up our moral codes, and throw ourselves into a life of ministry apart from a continuous re-immersion in the story itself, we walk right out of the presence and activity of God and set up our own shop." (5)
Centuries of Hebrew storytelling find their mature completion in the story of Jesus.
"'Story'," writes Peterson, "is the Holy Spirit's dominant form of revelation. [It's] why we adults, who like posing as experts and managers of life, so often prefer explanation and information." (4)