Tuesday, June 19, 2018

There's Truth in Them There Works of Fiction

Josh McDowell saved me.

Well, no. Of course that's not true. Christ's sacrificial death on the cross wiped my sins away and His resurrection released me from my slavery to sin itself...but reading Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, turned my belief in those things from something I was raised with into the fundamental core of my personhood.

Since that time in my freshman year of college, I have had a strong appreciation for apologetics ("systematic argumentative discourse in defense [as of a doctrine]") and it was with great interest that I purchased a book edited by Josh McDowell's son, Sean, titled Apologetics for a New Generation.

In the chapter written by Brian Godawa, "Storytelling and Persuasion", Godawa describes his love for the linear-thinking logic of classical apologetics but how today's culture demands a more imaginative approach than "If P then Q". And he uses some big names to back up his idea that maybe telling stories is a better way to share the Gospel than diagramming sentences:

       I looked closer at Jesus' ministry. Did He teach dogmatics from a pulpit? No. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God mostly through parables  -  dramatic stories. To Him, the kingdom was far too deep and rich a truth to entruat to rational abstract propositions. He chose stories of weddings, investment bankers, unscrupulous slaves, and buried treasure instead of syllogisms, abstraction, systematic, or dissertations. Jesus could do abstraction. He preferred not to. And He remained an enigma to the unbeliever. He did not explain His imaginative stories and metaphors to those who did not have ears to hear.
       Indeed, stories and parables may be superior means of conveying theological truth than propositional logic or theological abstraction. As N. T. Wright suggests, "it would be clearly quite wrong to see these stories as mere illustrations of truths that could in principle have been articulated in a purer, more abstract form.".... Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer writes in his book The Drama of Doctrine, "Narratives make story-shaped points that cannot always be paraphrased in propositional statements without losing something in translation." Claiming that the "ultimate meaning" of the parable of the Good Samaritan is simply that we should love or help the marginalized does not contain the full truth that comes only with telling the story with all its characters and emotions. If you try to scientifically dissect a parable, you will kill it, and if you discard the carcass once you have your doctrine, you have discarded the heart of God.

Truth is...Movies may have more impact than intellectual discussions, and there is truth in some works of art that is far deeper than will ever be memorized and recited.

No comments:

Post a Comment