Dr. Jon Kulaga – “The Story-Authority of Scripture”
“The disciples came up and asked, ‘Why do you tell stories?’” – Matthew 13:10 (The MESSAGE)
Is the Bible meant to be just a book we run to, to look up answers? Surprisingly, as we read the Bible, we discover that the answer to that question is, in fact, “no.” Most of the Bible does not consist of rules and regulations, or even lists of commands or creeds. Instead, what we find, are stories.
N.T. Wright has observed, “It is one thing to go to your commanding officer first thing in the morning and have a string of commands barked at you. But what would you do if, instead, he began ‘Once upon a time…’?”
Wright explains that this is the reason we have so much narrative in the Bible. Story authority, as Jesus knew, is the authority that really works. If we throw a rule book at someone they can duck, or simply disagree and go away. Tell them a story, though, and you invite them to come into a different world; you invite them to share a world-view or better still a ‘God-view’.
That, actually, is what the parables are all about. They offer, as all genuine Christian story-telling does, a world-view which, as someone comes into it and finds how compelling it is, quietly shatters the world-view that they were in already (Wright). Stories determine how people see themselves and how they see the world. Stories determine how they experience God, and the world, and themselves, and others.
If that happens at a merely human level, how much more will it happen when it is God himself telling the story?