Robert Jenson on metanarratives

A. from Canon and Creed, (Westminster John Knox, 2010), 120.

We must summon the audacity to say that modernity’s scientific/metaphysical metanarrative — at the moment told by astrophysicists and neo-Darwinians — is not the encompassing story within which all other accounts of reality must establish their places, or be discredited by failing to find one. It is instead a rather brutal abstraction from reality. The abstraction has proved to be magnificent in its intellectual power and practical benefits. Nevertheless, by these disciplines’ methodological eschewal of teleology, they prevent themselves from describing what actually is. As pop scientists urge over and over, the tale told by Scripture and creed finds no comfortable place within modernity’s metanarrative. It is time for the church simply to reply: this is certainly the case, and the reason it is the case is that the tale told by Scripture is too comprehensive to find place within so drastically curtailed a vision of the facts. Indeed the gospel story cannot fit within any other would-be meta-narrative because it is itself the only true metanarrative—or it is altogether false.

B. from “Scripture’s Authority in the Church,” in The Art of Reading Scripture, (Eerdmans, 2003), 34, 37.

Scripture’s story is not a part of some larger narrative; it is itself the larger narrative of which all other true narratives are parts. Biblical exegesis is reading sides and prop lists and so forth for the drama that God and his universe are now living together. Do not when reading Scripture try to figure out how what you are reading fits into some larger story; there is no larger story. Try instead to figure out how American history or scientists’ predictions of the universe’s future course or the travail of a family in your congregation fit into Scripture’s story.

The Bible opens into a world of its own and that, however surprising and upsetting the discovery, that is the real world.

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