Posted by: rogermitchell | August 20, 2010

systematic or narrative theology?

Putting it crudely systems that aim to make sense of everything tend to disempowerment and narratives to empowerment. Systematic fits with the modern era which I see as attempting to make sense of everything by human reason in reaction to the mediaeval imperial authority of church and empire which ended with the carnage of the Thirty Years War in Europe in which some 9 million people perished in central Europe between 1618 and 1648.  Narrative fits with the postmodern era which in its turn is in reaction to the modern era which elevated human reason over what it saw as transcendent power and ended with the Second World War during which 60 million people were killed between 1939 and 1945. Narrative is based on stories and testimonies which are offered as an addition to existing experience and thus add to, syncretise with or adapt it thus empowering the recipient.

If Dayton is right about early Pentecostal Christianity being based on narrative theology it has the interesting corollary of making it a precursor of the postmodern age which although has important positive implications raises huge questions about why it failed so significantly to maintain its empowering stance and release its story in such a way that it prevented the carnage of the climax of modern humanism. This failure, I suggest, put it on the wrong side of the modern-postmodern divide despite its head start. Over the coming days I will be considering some of the reasons why this was the case and some of what needs to be done to turn 525 million plus Pentecostal-charismatics into the fulness of the wind of the Spirit.



  1. wooo-eeeee, now we are flying. Keep on Roger, this is interesting. c.

  2. Hey Roger this has been living with me for the last few year.I would love to hear more of your thoughts on story over system.

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