Stories are fundamental to who we are as humans. Indeed, even if one is not conscious of it, reality itself is guided by the stories we tell and hear. We can see this in today’s polarized society, where being on the “right side” of any political or social issue is of utmost importance. Being on the “good” side of a story matters to most people.
The Christian Story Matters
Humans must choose some kind of story to follow, and the available options ultimately fall into the category of religious vs. non-religious narratives. For Christians, then, society desperately longing to be a part of a good, meaningful story should be something that motivates our desire to share the Gospel. Why? The Christian story is not only true but also is deeply meaningful and hopeful.
What separates Christianity from other rival stories is that the meaning of it is not dependent on its ending. Rather, deep, profound meaning is present from start to finish. In this regard, Christianity is a purpose-infused pilgrimage. This idea of a pilgrimage is taken from Ross Inman, professor of Philosophy here at Southeastern, who phrases it this way: “The Christian life is one of pilgrimage from a place of restless spiritual exile to a homecoming of restful communion with God, and we are all somewhere along the way.” The Christian appeal to meaning throughout the story – not just the ending – is not one so easily shared by other mainstream narratives, whether it be New Age Spirituality, atheism, or agnosticism. Christianity is therefore unique in its ability to speak to the human heart. What’s more, the Christian story can uniquely provide comfort and hope in the midst of life’s most challenging trials.
Take the problem of evil, for example. Eleonore Stump once commented that “philosophical reflection on suffering is better with the help of a story.” She then impressively makes her case by going on to show that utilizing biblical narratives can indeed assist in grappling with the problem of evil. Her overall point is that Christians have the ability to contextualize evil in the broader story of God’s redemptive plan, which is a readily available option to the Christian that other worldviews lack.