Tell Me a Good Story: The Need and Legitimacy of Narrative Apologetics | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0960-2720
  • E-ISSN: 2666-9730

Abstract

Summary

In the post-Christian West, characterised by ‘apatheism’ with its indifference towards the Christian faith, the communication of faith has a bigger problem with imagination than with reason. People do not see the relevance of faith; faith is meaningless. We therefore argue that apologetic witness in our postmodern context should not only involve ‘defending’ the Christian faith but should also focus on showing the relevance and meaningfulness of faith. In this article we explore the potential of narrative for this purpose. After analysing the concepts of apologetics and narrative, we situate our conception of ‘narrative apologetics’ in a critical realist epistemology, presupposing the hermeneutical nature of epistemic practices and the role of stories in these practices. Here we make use of C.S. Lewis’ observations about the connection between imagination and meaning when it comes to considering ideas as relevant or true. The meaning of ideas of faith can be demonstrated by connecting them to the imagination through narrative. With the help of J.R.R. Tolkien’s understanding of the effects of good fairy-stories, we explicate how narratives can help apologetics to show relevance, to present a friendly invitation for consideration, to offer participation and to retell the story of one’s life in terms of the grand narrative of faith.

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