Our day, even in the body of Christ, is fraught with a lack of engagement with actual sources. We rely more and more on the brief thoughts of others to form opinions. Many undergraduate students today barely know what a primary source is, and those of us who are past those years are increasingly bent on affirming something because it fits a narrative that we hold.
Merriam-Webster defines a narrative as, “a way of presenting or understanding a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of values”. We live in a day of narratives. All it takes to see this is to turn on the news, check out Twitter feeds, or listen to the quick and short arguments that many bat around. Within the body of Christ, this is no less the case. We limit ourselves to brief sound bites, easily formed opinions, and are increasingly carried away by the narratives of events, individuals and positions we encounter. If we allow ourselves to see this phenomenon, it is within this adherence to narratives that we find ourselves trapped in a type of tyranny. To be clear, I am distinguishing narratives from well thought out theological positions, systems of theological doctrine and biblical understanding. Narratives are the opposite. In narratives, we are simply drawn away into a movement, which posts as its banner this thing or that thing, and before long the narrative becomes the lens through which we view any related topic. And it is precisely this situation that causes us as individuals and as groups to be under a tyranny.
I’d like to suggest that there are five ways in which we as believers are affected as we fall prey to the tyranny of narratives. And these five areas are dangerous to our spiritual health and the health of others.
Firstly, when we tend to hold to narratives and uncompromisingly adopt them as lenses through which we see, we risk blunting our own ability to hear the Word of God proclaimed.