I finished reading Who gets to Narrate the World?: Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals by Robert Webber. He contends that through a story of Allah’s conquest over all non-Muslims, radical Islam is on the rise in our world. At the same time, the Western church and culture are weakened and fading as they accommodate civil religion, rationalism, privatism, and pragmatism -- meaning that as we are all about our individual selves and what works for us as individuals, we are losing a unifying story that holds us together. Competing stories will determine the future of the world.
For better or for worse, a culture is sustained by having a story that gives meaning to the existence and direction in which a people live and dream. A dream where everyone does his or her own thing is a dream of disintegration. It is kind of like people wanting to say there is no truth (a unifying belief) and then wanting others to believe their truth about this. If we aim at giving everyone their own truth, there is a built-in self-destruct for everyone to disregard what others think and to become insensitive and indulgent. One definition of hell is everyone serving himself or herself.
Webber proposes that we need to regain the Christian story, to sing, pray and enact God’s creative, nurturing, and restoring work in the world. Our stories find meaning within that narrative. We need to go to church for more than a fill at the gas pump. We need to find meaning in the context of God’s ongoing story. What story does your church tell -- its own, the story of individuals on a private spiritual journey, or the story of God’s Creation, Incarnation and Re-creation? What story do you live in?