Smith’s insight into the power and importance of story made me sing here and he does a great job of articulating this. I want to affirm wholeheartedly with Smith that narrative/story/poetic/artistic truth is powerful and essential to our human existence. As Smith and I have both argued in our own way, there is an irreducibility to poetic or narrative truth. One cannot just take a story or poem, getting its “meaning”—defined as the propositional truth contained within the supposed husk of the story— and then discard it.
Yet—and this is a big part of my whole goal in writing RGW—this is precisely how we have often read and interpreted and preached the Gospels, as if their narrative form is at best something to get through to the real, meaty, doctrinal truth, and at worst is an embarrassment and inferior form of truth-telling.
“On a regular basis pastors address the big questions – questions of life and death, meaning and meaninglessness, heaven and hell, the physical and spiritual. To be sure, no church wants a pastor to be an intellectual if this means being so cerebral and preoccupied with ideas that one cannot relate to other people. This kind of intellectual is so theoretical as to be practically good for nothing. However, the kind of intellectual I have in mind is a particular kind of generalist who knows how to relate big truths to real people.”
At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner discussed his work with Nijay Gupta on a forthcoming Baker Academic title.