“It is my belief that every story – no matter how distorted by man – can point to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we seek Him there.”
I recognize the claim I’m making is rather audacious. Every story is redeemable? Really? Right off the bat, I can think of a handful of stories that have – in my mind – NO redeeming qualities. There are stories out there that are sordid and vile – stories that make me angry, and (I think) rightfully so.
So please, hear what I am NOT saying:
I am NOT saying the stories we tell are in any way equal to the Bible.
The stories we tell are man-breathed; the Bible, God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). The stories we tell come from us, and therefore are fallible; the Bible comes from God, and is infallible.
My prayer is that I’m always led by 2 Timothy 3:16 in this regard: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.”
Scripture inspired by God will open our eyes to God’s grace woven in these stories; Scripture will rebuke them where they need to be rebuked, correct them where correction is needed, and train us in righteousness to look at them through God’s eyes.
Our stories show one thing: man. They show us as we see ourselves: sometimes invincible, sometimes vulnerable. They show love and hatred, peace and war, and they reveal the longings, hopes, and fears of mankind.
This is important because how we view ourselves tells us a great deal about how we view God. Naturally, God wants to bring us back to a correct viewing of Him. I believe we can use stories to do this.
I am NOT saying God approves of stories celebrating sin.
Sinful stories do not bring Him glory. Period. However, God redeems sinful situations, and turns them around. Look at the example of Joseph in Genesis. God did not approve of his brothers selling him into slavery (Gen. 37:18-36), of the lust of Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:6-12), or of Joseph’s false imprisonment (Gen. 39:13-40:14). However, look at what Joseph said to his brothers at the end: “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people” (Gen. 50:20).
Some stories plan evil against us. They put corrupt thoughts in our minds, cause us to fall away from God, or cause us to disbelieve His Goodness and Greatness. God allows that evil…and, somehow, plans it “for good.” He plans good despite the sinful circumstance we find ourselves in. How? Well, I’m not entirely sure all the time. Some things appear, to my eyes, irredeemable.
But I know that’s impossible.
I comfort myself with this thought: we must remember where we are in His Story. I don’t know how He will redeem everything, I just know He will do it. (For more on this, see one of my very first posts!).
I will NOT be delving into the issues occupying most professional literature in regards to stories.
There are three areas into which most literature concerning stories fall: psychology, origins, and classifications.
Therapy and counseling are important – I highly support both. However, I am not going to delve into the murky pool of the mind. This is partly because Freud freaks me out, but also because most of story-based psychology books are centered on child psychology, and (as we’ll come to see) early versions of stories were never specifically meant for children.
The origins of stories is fascinating! I love books on this topic! I think it’s important to trace the thread of a tale as far back as possible to see the socio-political context in which it was forged, and I will certainly reference these things in my blog. But if you’re looking for a discussion on whether written tales are mere corruptions of “pure” oral tales, or whether I believe the Grimm brothers actually sought out German peasants for their stories, then you won’t find it here. Those are rabbit-trails I don’t intend to follow.
Story classification is helpful, but again, I’m not going to be very legalistic about my stories. If I see a story fits into my theme, then I’ll include it in a series; if it doesn’t fit, or if I feel it’s not time to talk about it, then I’ll save it for later. You will also notice that I stay away from words such as “archetype”, “original version,” “fairy tale,” etc. Those terms are often used interchangeably, and therefore can lead to confusion and unnecessary arguing. Rather, I’ll be using words such as “theme”, “earlier/later version”, “tale,” “story,” etc. so as be more clear.
However, if you are interested in some of the above themes, I have listed some of the sources I came across in the Sources section.