Monday, October 03, 2005

More reflections on not boiling down

Richard Hall has posted some strong insights into why so much of the Bible, like the parables, is narrative. Richard's answer? That the Bible doesn't always offer us tidy little nuggets of meaning:

Stories, by their very nature, are open-ended. They may have a meaning, but the meaning you take is not always the meaning that’s intended. It’s easy to be suspicious of this. Most of the time we’d rather have clear, consistent and (preferably) concise. Stories offer ambiguity, and that can be hard to deal with. Textbooks for preachers often say something like: “Remember that a parable is not an allegory. It is a story with one clear simple message; the preacher’s task is to offer that message.” But the more I think about that sentiment, the more sure I am that it is rubbish: no story, however simple, has only one clear and unambiguous message.

That’s the point of parables, I reckon.

I agree. As I recently told the congregation with whom I preach, the job of preaching is not to "boil down" the truth for public consumption. God has already done the boiling down, and the result is called the Bible. And as Richard points out in his post, the ultimate revelation of God is the Word made flesh.


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