Who Gets to Narrate the World?
This is a great question and is the title of a short and stirring book by Robert Webber. It’s subtitled: Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals. Webber believed this question to be the most pressing of our time – it was published in 2008, a year after his death. He argued that there is a clash of spiritual narratives happening and that Christians have to submit to God’s story: ‘his-story’.
“This is the narrative that Christians confess. The church witnesses to this story: we sing it in our worship, proclaim it in our speech and preaching, inhabit it in our spirituality, live it in our relationships, enact it through works of love, and extend it in missions throughout the world.”
“There is no story, no philosophy, no religion, no ideology in all of heaven and earth that is a more profound narrative of the world. That God, who is the Creator, would himself become the Redeemer is unthinkable. But it’s true. God takes our death and suffering into himself and defeats it on the cross. He reclaims his universe when he rises from the dead to conquer evil and restore the Garden.” (p 36).
“Whose God rules over our lives? Whose God rules over history? Whose God will rule over all creation forever?
We Christians had better be ready to give the reason for the hope that lies within.
It is not evidence, or logic or philosophy.
It is the narrative.
All of it – in its fullness.” (Pages 36-37).
Who gets to Narrate the World? I’ve found that question has stayed with me since I first picked up the book. Webber was not an author I had come across before though I have since discovered he wrote many books and that he came under criticism from evangelicals. But this final book certainly has much to offer and, as Trevin Wax observed 15 years ago when he reviewed the book, it is ‘fundamentally sound’. And it is much shorter than some other books like Watkin’s magisterial ‘Biblical Critical Theory‘ – a superb read but its size and scope can be overwhelming. Webber’s book is a timely summons to Christians to be ready and alert:
“In your heart regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15).