Saturday, March 23, 2019

What is your Meta-Narrative?

\ ˈme-tə - ner-ə-tiv' \ - Concerning or providing information about members of its own category.

All of us have a pre-disposed narrative or understanding about a given topic that we routinely bring to a discussion or investigation. In the practice of Science, this is regularly called the "observer-expectancy effect," or "observer bias."[1]
In research, experimenter bias occurs when experimenter expectancies regarding study results bias the research outcome.[2] Examples of experimenter bias include conscious or unconscious influences on subject behavior including creation of demand characteristics that influence subjects, and altered or selective recording of experimental results themselves.[3]

Being cultured in cessationism, I learned to bring the cessationist meta-narrative of my understanding of the world around me to my interpretation of the Biblical texts.

How Cessationism Works

The Cessationist observes the world and finds little or no evidence of the miraculous.  Eventually, they settle on their theory: the supernatural does not exist today as it did during the life of Jesus.

Then they develop other theories that only the Apostles performed miracles, or perhaps they permit that only the first century Christians performed miracles.  Then they need to explain why the miraculous was limited to Jesus and those select few.  So, they invent a thing called authentication: Jesus and the elite few performed the miraculous to authenticate the Messenger  (Jesus) and the message (the gospel, or the new covenant)

In other words, they specifically assert that Jesus performed miracles for the primary purpose of authenticating Himself and His ministry, and allowed others to do the same to authenticate the gospel message.

Problems to eliminate

Once you've established your meta-narrative, and applied it to your understanding of a given subject, you may have difficulties to eradicate.   

For the King James Only folks, this can be a difficult challenge, which results in a lot of explaining on their behalf.  Their first problem is Mark 16:14-18: 
"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
They solve this by casting doubt on the scripture itself, asserting that it was likely added in a later century.[4]   The astute thinker will see that this causes a problem with their Biblical inerrancy clause, casting doubt upon their beloved KJV and its veracity.  So the argument shifts from the efficacy of the translation itself to the autographs from which the KJV is derived, those being spuriously referred to as the "Textus Receptus."[5] 

And the point is ...

We all bring preconceived ideas to our table.  However, those ideas may be incompatible with other ideas which then spawn the creation of new doctrines that are generally held in dissonance with higher, or more fundamental truths.

The Effects of a Meta-Narrative

Any good Baptist will assert "the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice."  They will also assert that their job is to "discover the truth of scripture, not decide the truth of scripture," and that "if the Word of God is our only authority for faith and practice, then the state cannot become a spiritual authority over the affairs of the church or the spiritual lives of individual Christians." (The Faithful Baptist Witness, pg 12, 2011 ed.)

In the light of such doctrine, we're forced to ask, "why does the Baptist Church service ("the affairs of the church") not look like the Biblical example" found in the New Testament?
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification ...  (1 Cor. 14:26-33)
If the Bible is their standard for Christian Practice, then why is this prescriptive practice not being followed?  The answer is simple: they've applied a Meta-Narrative.  In effect, they've discarded those things which do not fit their preconceived notions, their formulaic narratives of how church services are to be conducted.

Being Baptists, they cannot allow "a psalm ... a revelation ... a tongue ... an interpretation" to be given by just anyone since revelation is dead and they're all about controlling the message from the pulpit - and besides, the message lives with the pastor's interpretation of the Bible, not the congregation's.  Hence, since their doctrine of cessationism does allow for the "pastor and teacher" (but not many participants in the assembly), then there must be but one person who is performing the pastoring and the teaching in any given church service.

The New Revelation

What we then have is the doctrine of sola scriptura providing for the Authority of the Pastor/Teacher, Husband, and Government entities to provide revelation through oversight and guidance, but direct, personal revelation by no other means (The Faithful Baptist Witness, pg 15ff, 2011 ed.)  Thus, their doctrine allows for the obfuscation of scripture, and it's authority for your life today.  We learn then, that  Mark 16, and 1 Corinthians 14, are not to be taken as literally acceptable for Chrisitan practice today, but only as information pertaining to a by-gone era.  

Why?  Because of Meta-Narrative (aka, "because they said so.")

Summary

I've trodden down this path to highlight our propensity to observe the many facts of this world and to consequently, make the Bible conform to those facts.

That behavior is directly opposite of what Jesus did, and how He instructed us to behave (Mt. 17:20).  

When Jesus approached death or destruction, He reversed it.  When Jesus saw disease, He eliminated it.  In other words, when Jesus encountered the facts of this world, He communed with the Father and asked, "what are you doing in this situation" (Jn. 5:19, 12:49)?  Jesus then acted upon what His Father said, confronting the facts facing Him and commanding that they be conformed to the revelation of God the Father.

Our job is to function as Kings and Priests of the King of Kings; to affect change in the natural; to affect change in the Spiritual; to conform the unfortunate facts of this world to the life-giving nature of His word.

We are not to castrate His word by conforming it to the death, theft, and destruction of the enemy.

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What is your Meta-Narrative?

\ ˈme-tə - ner-ə-tiv' \ - Concerning or providing information about members of its own category. All of us have a pre-disposed na...