Thursday, February 23, 2006

Metanarratives and the Christian Stories

What are Christians to make of the postmodern incredulity toward metanarratives, is it a proof that postmodernity needs to be rejected by those of faith? Or are we missing what Lyotard meant by metanarratives?

Metanarratives are totalizing stories that depict the unfolding of history to its ultimate culmination. So for modernity examples of this would be the Marxists attempt to immanentize the eschaton by revolution. Justification for the revolution was a certain philosophical understanding of history, a totalizing story that told us of the proletariat's need to rise up in order to form a classless society. While the stories of the bible are often read in this grand totalizing way there are considerable differences between the stories modernity tells and those that are revealed in the scriptures.

The biggest difference that I see while reading around the topic of postmodernity and how it intersects with Christianity, is that the stories of modernity are stories that often seek to legitimize the status quo. They legitimize the aims of society, whether it is the capitalistic nation state or the party that will finally bring about the last revolution. In the end they seem to be self congratulating to those in power. While in contrast the narratives of the scriptures seem to always be in the service of de-legitimizing the people of God, to insist that they are not who they ought to be, that they are in need of rebuke, that they are a people in need of correction, that they are called to be people of the kingdom, but are never called the kingdom people.

To me this is a rebuke to much of Christianity that seems to tell the Christian stories within the stories of modernity.

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