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

 

Add new comment

Add new comment

Results

Results 41 - 50 of 425

Pages

How to Build a Winning Team

How to Build a Winning Team

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 105 Pages

Can I succeed like others have? What do I need to do? How do I go about it? What if I don't have the gifts necessary to do something great?  The wonderful truth revealed in Scripture is that God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats, especially when they say, "Yes, Lord" to the destiny He has prepared for them!

Price: $$10.95
How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 44 Pages | Published 2002

This brief booklet walks a person through the main obstacles to speaking in tongues, and shows how each one can be successfully overcome. It is down-to-earth, practical and biblical, and in it Mark Virkler shares the struggles he went through before he was able to speak in tongues. Some were theological issues and some simply practical issues, like the fact that if I am going to speak in tongues, I will need to speak. Otherwise, nothing happens.

Price: $$2.95
How to Walk by the Spirit

How to Walk by the Spirit

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 136 Pages

Are you like many western Christians who have been taught little about how to sense their spirits? Do you have trouble even defining what spirit sensations feel like within you, much less recognizing them? This training was birthed from Mark’s passion to live out of his spirit, and thus release the anointing of God. The problem he faced was lack of clear biblical definition as to what his spirit felt like. So Mark looked up every verse in the Bible on heart and spirit.

Price: $$9.95
Intimacy with the Holy Spirit

Intimacy with the Holy Spirit

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 223 Pages

This is a book you must have! Get to know Holy Spirit in a deeper, more personal way than you ever have before. Let Him reveal Himself to you through the Scriptures as your Comforter, Healer, best Friend and so much more.

This book leads you in meditating on and journaling about two hundred and fifty verses that discuss the Holy Spirit. You will grow in intimacy with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the anointing within you will increase! You will exclaim as the disciples did on the Emmaus Road “Did not our heart burn within us…while He opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)! In addition to being led to journal through these verses, you will read numerous two-way journal entries from Mark Virkler, as well as a five-page prayer at the conclusion of the book.

Price: $$10.95

Kids Can

by Karen Barnes | 98 Pages

This book will inspire you and train you to teach children to minister in the power of the Spirit! And the stories it contains will bring tears to your eyes! Kids Can is a message for the children of today about their destiny tomorrow. When kids encounter the pure essence of Jesus, they will become empowered, equipped and energized to serve Him accurately and with amazing clarity. As they hear His voice and are encouraged in their giftings, strong leaders are created and maturity, vision and skills are fine tuned.

Price: $$14.95
Lamad Biblical Education Association

Lamad Biblical Education Association

4 Co-authors | 44 Pages

FINALLY - A Spirit-Anointed Epistemology! A system of knowing for the Spirit-filled believer. A fresh moving of the Holy Spirit has been upon the Church of Jesus Christ for the last 100 years, since the Asuza Street Revival in 1902. In all that time the Spirit-filled community of believers (now numbering 27% of all Christendom), had yet to delineate an approach to learning which restored the Holy Spirit to His rightful place as the primary Teacher in our midst.

Price: $$10.00
Lamad Faculty Handbook

Lamad Faculty Handbook

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 78 Pages

This book presents lamad (revelation-based learning) standards  for teachers and curriculum writers. Lamad is a Hebrew word found in the Old Testament and it is translated "to teach" or "to learn."  It is a kind of learning that involves the Holy Spirit granting divine revelation to the heart of man. Thus it goes beyond western rationalism as a learning methodology.

Price: $$9.95
Living with Jesus Book 1 - Welcome to God's Family

Living with Jesus Book 1 - Welcome to God's Family

by Daphne Kirk | 47 pages

The Living with Jesus series is a unique, exciting  and transformational discipleship course for children, taking them through the fundamentals of the Christian faith in a relational, interactive and challenging way, always applying to their lives the commands to love God, love one another and love the lost.

Book 1 - Welcome to God's Family introduces the child to the Body of Christ.

Price: $$7.95
Living with Jesus Book 2 - Special Times and Gifts

Living with Jesus Book 2 - Special Times and Gifts

by Daphne Kirk | 45 pages

The Living with Jesus series is a unique, exciting  and transformational discipleship course for children, taking them through the fundamentals of the Christian faith in a relational, interactive and challenging way, always applying to their lives the commands to love God, love one another and love the lost.

Book 2 - Special Times and Gifts - Baptism, Communion and the Holy Spirit.

Price: $$7.95
Living with Jesus - Book 3

Living with Jesus Book 3 – Talking and Listening

by Daphne Kirk | 47 Pages

This delightful book teaches children ages 4-8 the four keys to hearing God's voice and gets them started journaling (drawing pictures if writing is too hard for them) and seeing vision.  It is ideal for parents and children to use together, or for use in a children’s Sunday school class or children’s home group.

Book 3 - Talking and Listening - Hearing the voice of God.

Price: $$7.95

Pages