Book

God Is Not a Story

Francesca Aran Murphy

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780199219285
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191711664 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199219285.001.0001
God Is Not a Story

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The book argues that the contemporary theological practice of describing Christian doctrines or beliefs as ‘narratives’ or ‘stories’ leads to a non-realistic idea of God, that is, to conceiving God as a story or narrative invented by ourselves. The idea that doctrines are narratives derives from an emphasis on the method of theology, that is, the substitution of a self-reflective description of how we know about God for saying what God is. The aspect of how we know about God upon which descriptive or narrative theologies focus is visual, and hence we characterize such theologies as cinematic or ‘movieish’. The book considers four ways in which narrative theologies replace content with method. Within ecclesiology, Barthian narrative theologians stress our grasp of the resurrected Christ at the expense of the resurrection witnesses. In the context of arguing for God's existence, Thomistic narrativists discuss the rationality of our questioning rather than the evidence for God's existence. Since, therefore, neither Barthian nor Thomistic narrative theologies can assume that the Creator God is metaphysically known, they visualize the problem of evil, presenting it like a melodramatic conflict. Fourthly, the attempt to elucidate the Trinity by means of narration or description tends toward modalism or Sabellianism. The focus of narrative theologies on methodological or epistemic issues entails that they reflect either the faith of the believer (rather than the object of belief) or the reason of the reasoner (rather than its target). This book proposes that theology can bypass this fideism/rationalism axis by making love the basis of theology, and that in four ways: the source of the Church and its scriptures is an act of love; the evidential image on which proofs for the existence of God can be based is the love of mother for child; the appearance of the Trinity in our history is the expression of the love of God; and hence, since its principal object is God's active love, theology refers, not to a melodrama, but to a real drama.

Keywords: story; love; visual; cinematic; fideism; rationalism; method; Trinity; evil; history

Book.  368 pages. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Spectacle in God Is Not a Story

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Naming God in God Is Not a Story

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A Close Run In with Death in God Is Not a Story

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Cinematizing the Trinity in God Is Not a Story

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