Propositional vs. Narrative Theology


14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[e] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit,sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 7:14-23

Things like philosophy, literary Criticism, and psychology go through phases in which a certain perspective becomes en vogue with a large segment of the leaders in their respective fields. For example, Freudian Psychology was very dominant in the early 1900’s, but later fell out of favor, only to see a revival with Jacque Lacan in the 1950’s. Currently, Narrative Theology is en vogue with many theologians. These high-powered influencers gag on any understanding of the Bible that can be broken down into concise statements. They demand that the Bible only be read as a collection of stories and not be dissected into easily digested propositions. I believe that the Bible contains many great stories and we need to be cognizant of the overall point of each story. However, this does not preclude us from drawing from the Scriptures clear principles to live by.

To those who would disagree, I point to Jesus as one of the greatest adherents to Propositional Theology. Yes, He used colorful stories to teach many great lessons, but He never shied away from breaking things down into clear concise principles.

Look at Jesus’ list and be honest about society’s current perspective:

Currently considered a cardinal sin:

  • Murder

Currently considered a marginal sin:

  • Theft
  • Adultery

Currently considered just a part of the human experience:

  • Evil thoughts
  • Sexual Immorality
  • coveting
  • Wickedness
  • Deceit
  • Sensuality
  • Envy
  • Slander
  • Pride
  • Foolishness

We need to be careful that we do not miss the forest (story) for the trees (propositions), but we also need to take note when Jesus points out trees with poison oak growing on them.


May 29th, 2015 by

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