First of all, what is a meta-narrative? Meta=above. Narrative=story, account or report. As an example meta-mathematics is the study of the reasoning that controls mathematics and its symbols, hence “above-mathematics”. Similarly, meta-physics is the branch of psychology that is above the physical. It studies the first principles, the meta- of being and knowing.
Many people in Jersey below a certain age will be quite convinced that there is no meta-narrative, no overarching story that encompasses everything we see and know.
And yet many scientists believe that one day scientists will discover a unifying theory of fundamental forces (like gravity and electromagnetism) that will explain and include all those forces – the Unified Field Theory.
And yet most Jersey folk seek a meta-narrative by attempting to define basic principles that explain the micro happenings in their world. We see a marital argument and say, “that’s because each party is self-interested”. Our attempt to find a macro to explain behavioural micros is an attempt towards a meta- behaviour- narrative.
Maybe there is a meta-narrative. The Bible has one. But because of our inner conviction these days that there is no meta-narrative (“what’s true for you is true but it’s not true for me”), the Bible’s meta-narrative is dismissed. Say to yourself, “It may be right for him to dismiss it but that doesn’t make it right for me to do so.”
What is the Bible’s meta-narrative. The problem is to set it out in a few sentences..... Here goes.....
Part 1. Mankind was originally created by God and was “very good” – as was all the world and universe created around him. But man decided to use it all for himself and not in fellowship with the Creator. Sin and mess was the outcome. Then God the Creator set about providing a Saviour.
Part 2. In AD 30-33 Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, an historical person, a wonderful healer, a man with authority over nature itself, a teacher of radical holiness whose life completely matched his teaching, claimed that God was his Father and maintained that he and his Father were one in their objective of redeeming mankind from all the ills and wrongs that afflicted their world. He taught that he would be convicted as a criminal deserving capital punishment and would be crucified by the Roman authorities and after three days in the grave would be raised from death – for others, so that others would have his life within. And it was so.
The next part is a micro event with a macro meaning, a meta.....
Part 3. Jesus met a woman around AD 30, a despised Samaritan woman, drawing water from a well in the noonday heat. Jesus said to her that, if she had known who was speaking to her, she would have asked of him and he would have given her, “living water”. She questioned his ability even to draw ordinary water from the well whereupon Jesus told her that if she drank the water that he had in mind she would never thirst again – never ever. The water he would give her would become, in her, a spring of water (a reversal of the nearby physical well) that would well upwards into eternal life. The Greek word that Jesus used for “life” was zoe meaning the life of God and that for “eternal” was aionios from which we get the English word aeon, meaning an immeasurably long period.
The woman asked for the living water and Jesus asked her, in turn, to fetch her husband. She replied, “I have no husband.” Jesus said that he knew that she had had five husbands and was currently living with a man not her husband. She needed to be reconciled with God. (See Part 1 above.) The woman was forgiven and changed. Many others from her village were also convinced. They spoke the words recorded in bold above. They saw the meta-narrative.
The question remains for you and for me. Is this the true meta-narrative? If so it must not be ignored because it encompasses all of life and will do so for aeons. I’m quite convinced that this meta-narrative is for me, for anyone who hears the story.....