In a previous post, I talked about how to write a theological narrative. There is a sense, however, in which all narratives are theological…they may not be correct, but they are theological. All narratives portray God in one way or another. As individuals interact with one another, define boundaries of right and wrong, and determine which events from the past are important. As cultures establish narratives, they also make decisions about who God is and what role he plays in the life of the culture.
Whether we are reading a story in the paper, watching a television show or movie, listening to a radio program, or simply having a conversation with someone on the street, we are having a theological conversation that can shape and form the way we view the world. We also have the opportunity to gain insight about how those with whom we will be interacting understand God and his place in the world.
As believers, we need to be diligent to maintain a healthy distance from false theological narratives. They can and do influence the way we understand God and we need to ensure that our view of God is as faithful to the Scriptures as possible. At the same time, we have a responsibility to engage those with different theological narratives and to correct their perceptions of God. This task is challenging as it can often seem to necessitate conflict and confrontation. At times, perhaps it does.
I’d like to suggest, however, by becoming stronger storytellers with the ability to convey a theological narrative that is thoroughly biblical, we will be able to offer a more compelling portrayal of our God and the manner in which he desires to restore the world. Being thoroughly biblical in conveying our theological narrative will likely mean that we have to think more broadly about the issues of the day. The biblical narrative may well speak to political and moral matters, but being “right” about those issues, correcting a false theological narrative through debate, or winning an argument may not demonstrate the fullness of the Bible’s theological narrative. We are, after all, not called to be right…we are called to be witnesses to a God who sent his son to save the world.
Ultimately, as we encounter false theological narratives, we must consider how best to address and correct them. When we choose to address and correct them, however, we must do so in a manner that honors and witnesses to the God we serve. We do not have the luxury of having our ends justify our means. False theological narratives will be with us until all is renewed. Our job is not to rid ourselves of them, but to engage them in a manner that showcases God truly.