I attended the Ward Lecture here at LTS on 10/22 to hear Dr. Carol Hess present “Fiction as Truth: Novels as a source for (Paradoxical) Theology. It was a decent lecture and Dr. Hess articulated many things that i've been trying to say for a while now...
I couldn't help but think of the difference between Gallielo's narrative presentation of his theories vs. Newton's mechanical and formulaic presentation. Gal is a hoot to read, and fun! Newton... not so much
Dr Hess then jumped to what makes good fiction and good theology and how they overlap. She stated that fiction and theology is set in time and place, it is provisional, it is paradoxical, ironic, and revelatory. I wish she would have spent more time here because I feel this is the core of the argument. We’re seeing this in our churches today with the “established” voice versus a more emergent model. This is not the usual Conservative versus Liberal theology that we have seen but something else due to the study of post-modern thought.
Many people ask me for my systematic theology and I state that I can’t fully give them one, and usually give them something close to this model. They then state that this couldn’t possibly be a theology that does any good and that even novels have a structure and plot devices. The problem with systems is they sanitize and simplify an ambiguous and complex world. No system ever contains the full picture.