The Recovery Of Luke-Acts As “Grand Narrative” For The Church’s Evangelistic And Edification Tasks In A Postmodern Age -- By: William J. Larkin, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:3 (Sep 2000)
Article: The Recovery Of Luke-Acts As “Grand Narrative” For The Church’s Evangelistic And Edification Tasks In A Postmodern Age
Author: William J. Larkin, Jr.


The Recovery Of Luke-Acts As “Grand Narrative” For The Church’s Evangelistic And Edification Tasks In A Postmodern Age

William J. Larkin, Jr.a

I. Introduction

One of the marks of postmodernism is the awareness of the loss of modernity’s meta-narrative which gave western culture its coherence and sense of purpose. 1 One of the marks of classic evangelical hermeneutics is the loss of Biblical narrative as the source of normative teaching. 2 One of the marks of evangelical revisioning of the Biblical grand narrative is to concentrate on the sweep of salvation history from creation to Jesus’ resurrection-ascension-session and then skip to the consummation at his return. 3 Yet a key component in Biblical narrative, namely Acts, is more often than not overlooked. Since Jesus’ ministry and teaching are usually viewed synthetically, the distinctive contributions of the individual Gospel narratives are lost, in our case the Gospel of Luke. Yet, Luke-Acts’ genre, occasion, and purpose, and content and themes reveal that it is eminently qualified to aid the church in its edification, and particularly its evangelistic tasks, in the postmodern age. This paper will overview the postmodern approach to meta-narrative, assess the current evangelical hermeneutical approach to normativity in narrative, and note Luke-Acts’ role, or lack thereof, in evangelicals’ proposals of Biblical meta-narrative to the postmodern. In the light of the current state of the discussion in each of these arenas, this article will argue for Luke-Acts as a “grand narrative” which the church should use, not only for its own edification, but also for evangelism in the postmodern context.

II. Postmodern Approaches

Postmodern approaches define meta-narrative as “a story we tell ourselves, about what we do, and what is expected; it is a story that links our smaller stories together and gives us unity, social, psychological and intellectual.” 4

It is the grand overarching narrative which is regarded as “really true,” for it legitimates some knowledge, beliefs, and practices that explain our culture in terms of origin and destiny and the power that sustains us. At the same time it marginalizes other knowledge, beliefs, and practices. Bruce Janz gives these characteristics of meta-narrative, some of which may be peculiar to modernity’s meta-narrative. It totalizes reality (explains everything); is based on the rational self (instead of t...

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