The Grand Story that explains every other story.
Lesson 5 from The HOPE Study Guide
Observe & Consider
At heart, we are storytellers. Most of us have been in situations where a story is told, and then someone else responds by telling a related story of their own, which evokes a similar response from yet another person. And on it goes. We are all drawn to the power of a great story, and even more, we desire to identify with and enter into a story greater than our own.
In fact, some sociologists say that the essential quest of humankind can be understood as a search for “metanarrative” or “metanarra.”1 This term refers to a grand story or archetypal account or ideology in which other stories find their meaning. Regardless of culture or rank or station or occupation, man quite naturally searches for some story in which all other stories find their meaning…a story in which we ourselves find our meaning.
Throughout time, people have derived meaning and purpose from stories (metanarra) handed down to them through culture or religion. But in the late 19th century a worldview called modernism2 emerged, claiming that those kinds of traditional metanarra are no longer relevant to our modern world. Modernism sought to replace the “old” stories and religious values with the arguments of reason and the findings of science. These, the modernists said, would define for us the meaning and purpose of our lives, thus creating the new metanarra.
Modernism, however, has failed to deliver a grand story from science or reason, and we now live in a world that is often called “post–modern,”3 a world which denies the existence of any grand story at all!
Still, even in our post–modern world, people are drawn to stories that give meaning to life. Having bought the post–modern lie that there is no grand story, many people settle, instead, for lesser stories. These lesser, personalized stories might bear titles like, “The World According to Me,” or “What I Need to Live Happily Ever After.” They center on an individual’s family or career, and how these areas of life should be lived out. In our world, there are as many smaller stories as there are different kinds of people. This endless fragmentation contributes to what we call “relativism,”4 the idea that truth is simply whatever is true for you.
Many people view the Bible simply as 66 separate books containing wise writings and good stories (loosely connected at best), which may or may not reveal something about God and His involvement in the affairs of man. But the Bible is so much more. It is in fact The Grand Story by which every other story is defined. It is not only the story in which humankind finds its meaning and purpose; it is the story in which you and I can find our meaning and purpose.
Ask & Reflect
Think about your story – the story you envision for yourself.
- Who is the main character? What is the point of the story? Does it have a happy ending? How much control do you have over the outcome of your story?
- Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have a story that we inhabit. It is why we get up every day and do what we do. Perhaps you envision a long story that plays out through the rest of your life. Perhaps you can only envision a story for this day.
- Is your story part of a greater story? If so, how would you describe the greater story?
Decide & Do
Suppose two people viewed a beautiful sculpture in an art museum, and they each studied the sculpture from a different angle. If they were to describe what they saw, their accounts would naturally be different, even though they were looking at the same sculpture.
Over the past few days, we have looked at the Bible from many different angles. We’ve seen it as a book unlike any other in terms of its composition and public impact. We’ve seen it as a book that can, without a doubt, be trusted as our reference point in life. And we’ve considered the Bible as The Grand Story in which you and I can find our meaning and purpose.
There is yet one more angle from which to view the Bible.
The Bible book of 2 Timothy says that the entire Bible is “inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The word “inspired” is translated from the Greek word “theopneustos” 5 in the earliest manuscripts. This word literally means “God–breathed.” According to this verse, the Bible is not just a book about God; it is the very word of God. It claims to be God Himself speaking …to you and me.
In light of this claim and all that we have considered about the Bible so far, ask yourself, “What if God were to appear and speak to me tonight? Why would He even take the time to do that? How would I respond? What would I be inspired to do or be?”
God is speaking to you, through the Bible. How will you respond?
For Further Study
- Art Lindsley, C. S. Lewis on Postmodernism. This article originally appeared in the Spring 2002 issue of Knowing & Doing, © The C. S. Lewis Institute, 2002. (http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/pages/resources/publications/knowingDoing/2002/LewisPostmodernism.pdf). Retrieved on November 14, 2006.
- Stan Wallace, The Real Issue: Discerning and Defining the Essentials of Postmodernism.(© Leadership U, 1995–2006). (http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9802/wallace.html). Retrieved November 14, 2006. This article addresses the essential properties of the postmodern way of thinking.
- Bob Hostetler, Who Changed the Cultural Channel? (© The Navigators, Discipleship Journal, 2006). (http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.129.3.html). Retrieved November 14, 2006.
- Donald Macloud, The Inspiration of Scripture. (http://www.ouruf.org/d/cvt_inspiration.pdf). Retrieved from the Reformed University Fellowship website on November 14, 2006.
1Wikipedia®, Metanarrative. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metanarrative). Retrieved November 14, 2006.
2Todd Kappelman, The Breakdown of Religious Knowledge. (© Probe Ministries, 1996–2006). (http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/breakdwn.html). Retrieved November 14, 2006. “What constitutes truth? The way we answer that question has greatly changed since the Middle Ages. This essay provides an overview of three areas in philosophical thought, with their impact on Western culture: premodernism (the belief that truth corresponds to reality), modernism (the belief that human reason is the only way to obtain truth), and postmodernism (the belief that there is no such thing as objective truth).”
3Wikipedia®, Postmodernism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism). Retrieved November 14, 2006.
4Wikipedia®, Relativism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativism). Retrieved November 14, 2006.
5Strong’s Greek Dictionary, Theopneustos. (http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/2315.htm). Retrieved November 14, 2006.