Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Narrative Theology - Just do it!
The following is a write-up on a Narrative Theology course I'll be teaching this summer. I'd love for as many of you Bethel students as are interested to sign up! It should be a good time:
God. Story. Community.
Is your theology stale and propositional? Is it individualist and modernist? Then you need a narrative theology facelift. Narrative theology (also sometimes called "post-liberalism") is, in part, based on a conviction that at the heart of biblical faith are stories about God and God's relationship to his people. Rather than attempt to construct a coherent set of "timeless," eternally valid propositions, theology should be deeply attuned to the variety, the complexity and the configurations of these stories. But narrative theology isn't just the recognition that the Bible contains lots of stories. Rather, it is based on the assumption that the way we think, understand ourselves, worship, and theologize most effectively is by telling and embodying stories in communities. The "narrative turn" in theology during the last half of the 20th century is, admittedly, not as new as it seems. Numerous theologians throughout history have recognized that theology should be driven by story, that the story of the Bible is passed on to us through communities of faith, and that dynamic rationalities are storied epistemologies. This course will cover historical precursors to what is now known as the discipline of Narrative Theology through writings of St. Augustine, Karl Barth, Richard Niebuhr and Hans Frei. We will then engage the writings of more recent and current "players" in the movement, such as George Lindbeck, Paul Holmer, Stanley Hauerwas and-on the "post-conservative" side of the discussion-Kevin Vanhoozer. Attention will also be given to influence of the philosophy of language on narrative theology through the works and influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Paul Ricoeur. Finally, the course will explore the relation between NT and current expressions of both feminist and evangelical theologies.