What is story theology? Sometimes called narrative theology, story theology touches both head and soul. Stories are at the heart of the Christian and Jewish faiths. Instead of everything being delivered as a series of doctrinal statements (though those exist), the Scriptures also contain many stories. According to Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, approximately 40% of the Old Testament is narrative (How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth).
If you ask a random Christian to tell you something about the Bible, most likely they share with you a story from Scripture. It may be David and Goliath or Jesus feeding 5,000. Even years after being heard, the story will be remembered. Granted, it will be remembered in varying degrees of detail, but the broad strokes will almost certainly be retained.
Story gets in the heart and stays. In Jesus’ day, parables were commonly used to teach about God and His Kingdom. They are short and easy to remember and most focus on one thing about God. The Pearl of Great Price teaches how the Kingdom is worth more than anything else one can have.
Parables make a comparison between two things. One is easy to understand for the common hearer. It is concrete. The other is out of the common person’s experience. It is abstract. Parables take the abstract and put it in the terms of the concrete. God is the loving father, waiting for the son to return, who rushes off and grabs his son as soon as he sees him on the road. God is the harsh master who insists his workers use what he has given them.
Like all theology, story theology intends to draw us closer to God. It is far from dry and boring. Story theology forces the listener to make a decision. You have to decide if you have built your house on the solid rock or shifting sand. You have to decide if the pearl is worth selling everything you own to attain. You have to decide if you have faith like David did when he stood against the champion of his enemies.
Where are you in the story?