Comparisons Between Systematic Theology & Narrative Theology

Mark Virkler's picture

I had been a Christian for many years before I ever heard the phrase “narrative theology.” I understood “systematic theology” as I used it to establish systems of truths which I believed, taught and sought to live. So what was narrative theology?

Narrative Theology – “Discourse about God in the setting of story” - Gabriel Fackre


Systematic Theology

  1.      Engages the intellect
  2.      Is a later reflection on the story of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
  3.      A secondary process – thinking, commenting on the story

Narrative Theology

  1.      Engages the heart, the mind and the whole person
  2.      Is the first expression of the story of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior
  3.      A primary process – experiencing the story

Can we agree that commenting on the story can never itself legitimately claim to exhaust the truth contained within that story? Narrative is never exhausted by any schematic formulation. We always need to keep going back to the original story. 


The classtime is a time of sharing stories together

Since the core of life is story, since Jesus came to earth and revealed His Father by living an amazing life story, since the Bible is a collection of true stories and since conversion and spiritual growth consist of our life story being intersected by His Story, let’s examine ways of encountering Jesus by entering God’s story. Particularly, how would we do this in Sunday School, Bible school or home group?

The Bible models that life-giving teaching flows out of stories. Therefore, the most effective classes will be those which involve our lives' stories being shared together. This includes our stories from the past week as well as honoring the story taking place in the classroom between the students and with the teacher.

The instructor can tell his own life’s story, as it intersects the truth they are exploring from Scripture. He can tell what the Holy Spirit has revealed to him about how he has effectively appropriated this Kingdom reality into his life. In like manner, students in the class should be encouraged to tell their lives’ stories and what the Holy Spirit is revealing to them and how it is being worked out (or not being worked out) in their lives.

The most effective textbook will be that which includes life stories. These stories can explore the results of both obedience and disobedience. The Bible certainly explores both. The Bible is the most profound book in the world demonstrating storytelling, and therefore should be used heavily as the main teaching text. When other texts are used, make sure they use the medium of story as they teach. Seek out texts that combine and incorporate a thorough cognitive understanding while using the medium of story. 


Ways we can experience story within the classtime

Sharing our individual life stories - We can invite everyone to share a revelation God gave them during the last week and how it impacted them for the better as they applied it, or battles they are experiencing as they seek to implement the revelation.

As we come together we are experiencing life together in the Holy Spirit. We should honor our shared story.

  • As we quiet our hearts in God’s presence, we can share what He is speaking. This becomes prophetic words.
  • As we minister to a need a person has, we can listen to the Spirit and minister what the Holy Spirit reveals, thus operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

Teaching times – where we receive revelation together from a Scripture

  • Tell a story rather than simply sharing didactic facts. One enters the story by presenting the material on the level which the students are at, using illustrations that relate to their walk in life.
  • Experience a Bible story and allow people to meet Jesus in it. As a small group you may corporately enter the Bible scene, becoming one of the characters, and experiencing it in the first person. A way of doing this is to sit in a small circle holding hands, with eyes closed. You then go around the circle, numerous times, with each person fixing their eyes and hearts on the scene, tuning to the flow of the Holy Spirit and sharing what they are experiencing. They may actually "become" one of the characters of the biblical scene. When a person is done sharing, he squeezes the hand of the person on his right. This is the signal for them to share or, if they desire to pass, they may in turn squeeze the hand of the person on their right. A good way to prepare for this exercise is to read the Bible story together first to help focus your hearts and minds. I have done this numerous times and the results are always profound as people share their experiences.
  • Drama – A small group could, in an impromptu way, act out a Bible story and then share the feelings each experienced.
  • Practice truth together – This involves DOING whatever it is you are learning about. You can practice prophesying, healing, deliverance, dream interpretation, serving and any other skill you are learning about from Scripture.
  • Dance, pageantry – Through dance or pageantry, express your heart to Almighty God.

Journaling  times – Make two-way journaling and reading of your journaling to one another a standard practice in each meeting. This is extremely powerful and faith building.


Resources to take you deeper

 

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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?


Price: $$12.95

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice (hard cover)

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

40% off the suggested retail price!

For the first time EVER! Hardcover copies of 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. This is a magnificent, beautiful gift to give for any occasion. Retailing at $24.95, you can purchase it through our website at only $15.00! Bless people with the gift of spiritual intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. Get a souvenir copy for yourself. Only 600 copies produced, so order while supplies last!

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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of CDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?

Price: $$77.85
4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of DVDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

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Dialogue with God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 296 Pages

This top seller for 30 years from Bridge Logos provides a narrative, right-brain presentation of the principles of how to hear God's voice. Especially enjoyable for personal use, it makes a great gift for introducing a loved one to the voice of God. This book teaches the four keys to hearing God's voice in readable style, and also devotes two entire chapters to moving samples of people's journaling (i.e. their two-way dialogue with God).

Price: $$16.99
Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

9 Books, 10 CDs, 10 DVDs now at a $30+ savings

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

Price: $$175.00

How to Hear God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 317 Pages

We recommend that you order the newest revision of this book titled 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. It includes 95% of the content of How to Hear God's Voice but is reorganized so it fits perfectly with the 10 DVDs on this subject by Mark Virkler. In addition, it gets you started using the four keys earlier in the book and gives you more journaling samples and exercises. Since we have removed the large margins, it is a smaller and less expensive book.

Price: $$19.95
LEARN 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Notebook

LEARN 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler

This 49-page Life Enrichment And Review Notebook (previously called a "Seminar Guide") is designed to go along with the CD/ DVD series and/or PowerPoint presentation. If receiving training in a group, we highly recommend that EVERY member of the group have their own copy. It offers you the following four benefits:

Price: $$4.95
Prayers That Heal the Heart

Prayers That Heal the Heart

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 320 Pages

Prayer counseling that breaks every yoke! Everything you need to experience deep healing of your soul and spirit.

Did you know that you don’t need to be continually plagued by negative thoughts, feelings, pictures or memories?

Price: $$14.99

Counseled by God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 146 Pages

Act Now: 

Have you ever been defeated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, inferiority, condemnation or depression? Have you tried to fight them off unsuccessfully? Is there an answer that is deeper than simply trying to mentally reason yourself out of these emotions? Is there a way that Jesus can speak a word of life into the depths of your emotional despair and bring healing on a deep level? Is there a form of Christian counseling that begins and ends with the movement of Christ within your heart, rather than simply with the words of man?

Price: $$9.95

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