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I feel conflicted about this emphasis on storytelling. Is there a slippery slope to biblical error? What do you think?

Please comment if you understand what I am saying here.

Let me know how you have navigated the old adage the methods change but the message stays the same. 

It seems like a slippery slope of majoring on the container of the message without great care to the biblical soundness of the content. 

Kindly follow me as I ramble some about these matters I am processing.

Please pray earnestly that God will grant me His wisdom about this matter.

 

I understand and appreciate that storytelling is used on the mission field to engage oral cultures and in the USA to capture the attention of the youth.

I get that stories engage the heart as much or more than the mind. And they are more memorable than dry and stuffy lectures. 

BUT there is a slippery slope. Notice that the Mormons, Scientologist, and anime comics use storytelling with excellence. They have a strong appeal. BUT the Truth of God with a capital T is absent.

My fears are colored by my background as a child in a liberal Episcopal church.

(So here is a STORY to give context to my concerns.)

I am currently 65 years old. The liberal Episcopal church I attend until about 7 or 8 used the Book of Common Prayer. And that version was published in 1928. I attended in the 1950s. The ONLY Bibles in print were KJV. The Book of Common Prayer used many of those kinds of pronouns and cadences.

 

My parents did not mention God, Bible, or prayer at home. The exception was when my dad said the same prayer at a formal holiday meal. It was as follows: Bless oh Lord this food to the nourishment of our bodies and ourselves to Thy service. Yet his words and deeds did not reflect ANY intention to serve Christ during the week.

 

Mostly my mother liked church for social contacts mostly. She had some deep curiosity about psychology, religion, and esoteric matters based on the wide range of books she read. But she did not read the Bible at home or teach me and my brother to pray.  

 

And my dad liked to be there to be seen by his corporate bosses. He sometimes helped as an usher.

 

Going to adult church seemed to be a religious dance that was choreographed about when to stand, sit, and kneel. There were kneelers in the pews.

The marriage of my parents went from bad to much worse. We stopped attending church. 

I was a seeking agnostic at college. I went to the campus ministries of the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists. They talked about Jesus and recalled Bible stories. BUT there was ZERO mention of a need to be born again. The preachers were not trained to understand evangelism by their liberal professors.

There is the saying that love unites and doctrine divides. They say, so let us JUST love one another. Do NOT pay any attention to the deity of Christ, the reliability of Scripture, Holy Trinity, bodily resurrection, miracles of Jesus, etc.

In order to sell more books and get more likes and have more song downloads, etc. it would be profitable to go easy on or never mention topics like sin, repentance, the holiness of God, personal responsibility, sin nature, judgment, forgiveness, reconciliation, restitution, sanctification, purity, spiritual warfare, etc.

I appreciate that kids do not like to eat broccoli. Adults do not like to go to the fitness center regularly. Teens do not like to curb their fleshly desires. Americans do not like to save money. So Millenials had to make up the word adulting.

Hindus and others will add Jesus to the pantheon of Higher Powers. But what does it really mean walk in daily fellowship with Jesus Christ where He is the Lord of my aspirations, commitments. time, money, etc.

I came to faith in Christ in the 1970s. I had a brief but intense season of drug abuse. In my brokenness, God led me to a church-based rehab. In that setting, ALL those around me were talking and walking that Jesus Christ was the center of all their thoughts, words, and deeds. Then I graduated and found that in suburban churches the members treat their relationship like a fashion accessory to wear or leave at home.

The IGNORING of propositional truth as FOUNDATIONAL anchors can and WILL lead to many errors contrasted to historic biblical orthodoxy within a few decades. The record of church history ALWAYS points to compromise.

So while as a person with a liberal Christian childhood I TREASURE the creeds, confessions, and catechisms. Yet I and not ignorant that they are not appealing like a blockbuster movie.

Church attendance is decreasing with Millenials. That is a sad fact. So what does that portend for the next generations? Is it smart to use ANY strategies to pump up church attendance at the expense of proclaiming the gospel?

The contemporary church music lyrics do not have the rich theology of the traditional hymns. 

It seems that most of the songwriters of the most popular Christian songs lack much spiritual depth. There are clever lyrics with catchy melodies. BUT where is the convicting gospel message? Where is the call to repentance? Where is the awe of God in His many signs and wonders in the OT and NT? Where is the call to surrender the desire for carnal and worldly goal in the light of the high call of God?

If we can witness how songwriters can compromise then is there also a danger that those who make the best videos for outreach will dilute the message instead of risking rejection? 

I admit that I like a good skit on Sunday mornings. New Tribes Mission and other leverage stories on the mission field. But when will the members gain the discernment to know the difference between an inspiring tale and a narrative that is worthy of remembering years later?

I want to hear your perspective and insights. You have a foot in the storytelling world and likely your personal theology is conservative.

So how do you navigate and reconcile these matters?

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Comment by Clyde Taber on July 5, 2018 at 7:50pm

John, I actually change my mind. I realize that Scripture is two thirds narrative. So there is a ton of theology that we derive from the narrative portion of Scripture. Story can be for theology just as well as engaging an indifferent audience.

Comment by Clyde Taber on July 2, 2018 at 8:24pm

John, I think your questions are thoughtful and useful. There is a great deal of thinking that has gone into chronological Bible story being with an emphasis on faithfulness to the text. Outside of that, I think that storytelling serves its biggest role in garnering the interest of those who are apathetic or resistant.

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