Is Christianity a Metanarrative?
Is the Judeo-Christian tradition a metanarrative? Yes and no, but I think it’s closer to No. Put another way, Does the Bible present itself as a metanarrative? Not in the sense of an explicit, systematic metanarrative. Not in the sense of a story as we know story. No, Jews and Christians have formed the Judeo-Christian metanarrative based upon the variety of narratives, poems, prophecies, historical and legal writings, letters, etc. of the Bible. In that sense, our tradition may be a metanarrative… but again, maybe not. It lacks the specificity and comprehensiveness of a metanarrative. We have big chunks of the story, as well as a broad outline of it. But we really do not understand the story in all its nuances... even those who think they do. The story leaves some questions—lots of them—open to our imaginative exploration.
Yet this mystery—anthology of mysteries, really—hauntingly draw the soul back, time and again. The story will not release me, though I have tried to do without it a few times. It is the mysteries, the way the story confounds me to the uttermost, that keeps drawing me back, drawing me closer, drawing me deeper. And yet the closer I get and the deeper I go, the greater the mystery becomes. Who is this God? How does He sovereignly reign over His creation? How do we fit into His plan and His accomplishment of it? Why does evil exist, and what is its relationship to God? These are the questions that have perplexed, indeed haunted, humans—at least those who have dared to ask them—since the beginning of time.
Various people have striven to perceive and formulate answers on their own and in community, most of them claiming some sort of divine inspiration or revelation. Christianity is utterly dependent on the divine speech acts recorded in Scripture, and yet that revelation forever evades us, is beyond us… sometimes barely, it would seem, but other times the disparity feels infinite. And yet the glimpses God has offered to us of Himself are breathtaking and tantalizing. I have never “seen” God’s glory, but oh, I have perceived it quite poignantly. It is more real to me than life itself, than flesh and blood, grass and rock, water and sky. It is life, and compared to it, everything else is death.