Who Narrates The World? Dr. Duane W.H. Arnold PhD

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61 Responses

  1. Corby says:

    Who narrates the word? Morgan Freeman of course!

  2. John 20:29 says:

    as i understand the word, narration would come immediately after the fact/act, so if i’m viewing the world’s turning with my own eyes, why do i care about an annoying narrator’s interpretation which intrudes on my own?
    now, if we’re talking about trusting the Bible past, present and future to guide me… well, then i guess i do care about who’s doing the narrating… hmmm, don’t think i want old Morgan Freeman doing the job 🙂

  3. Michael says:

    The narrative of the church in evangelicalism has changed from the story of the kingdom of God to the story of how to reclaim America…as if the two were the the same.

    Success looks very different in the two kingdoms…

  4. John 20:29 says:

    perhaps it is natural, if one has lived in a land where the Bible was considered to be God’s book, to tie the land to the Faith? like the Jew, rightly or wrongly, has done for thousands of years?
    something to think about today… just why does America (U.S.A.) tie the land to the Church? good food for thought… thinking… thinking… …

    take care to stay quiet, warm … and calm, Michael… this is a good topic to think on, thank you

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    Returning to the basic Christian narrative of Creation, Fall and Redemption is the heart of the matter. The world is not ours, but God’s… We are fallen creatures and self-help programs are not the answer… Redemption is the work of Christ alone…
    How seldom we hear it…

  6. “to find the central tenants of the Christian narrative …”

    Are there central tenants or A Central Tenant? We have gotten away from the central tenant which has now left it open to a plurality of central tenants and since the evangelicals do control the narrative (and here I would disagree with Michael about the America emphasis) – the central tenant has been switched from Christ and him crucified to The Christian and his behavioral change.

  7. Michael says:

    John 20:29,

    I think the Bible speaks of God’s people as being a people in exile…we’re here to tell the story of redemption, not of democracy.

    I think part of the issue that Duane is addressing is one of identification…how do we as Christians define ourselves in the culture we live in?

    Are we a peculiar people with a radical story of redemption or do we primarily identify with a particular temporal culture?

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael and MLD

    I think you are both hitting the point, but from different approaches. The real problem is that the central narrative of creation, fall and redemption has been abandoned my many mainline denomination. They would not admit to its abandonment, but it is no longer how they interpret either life or culture. There are many in certain denominations that still hold that narrative, but they feel forced to “water it down” or to take up the latest “fad”. They want to keep their jobs… Among evangelicals the narrative lurks somewhere underneath Church Growth techniques, prosperity, motivational talks, personal development, politics… the list goes on.

  9. Michael says:


    I had the misfortune of having to visit the local Christian bookstore the other day.
    If there was a book (other than the Bible) that was focused on the ancient narrative of the faith it was buried somewhere I couldn’t find.

  10. Michael says:

    The question I have is how does one turn the tide?

    Our church was pretty a pretty standard evangelical church, just on a smaller scale.

    The real spiritual growth for us came when I placed central emphasis on the Lord’s Table and my preaching became focused on Christ and Him crucified.

    I wonder if the view of the Eucharist affects the rest of the “liturgy”….

  11. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I wonder if the view of the Eucharist affects the rest of the “liturgy”….”

    Certainly it does, but that wouldn’t sure all ills either. At one point, all churches centered around the Eucharist…and things were a mess.

    I think step 1 is more grace and understanding for our brothers.

  12. Michael says:


    More grace and understanding in what areas?

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    How to turn the tide is a big question… I wish that I knew.

    In my theology, the Church is a Eucharistic Community. The communion narrative IS the narrative of creation, fall and redemption. Agreed that it does not cure all ills in terms of polity, pastoral care, etc., but I think it is foundational.

  14. Josh the Baptist says:


    I am very judgmental towards the bulk of Christians in the world today. They aren’t going to change just because I don’t like them. I should seek to extend more grace and understanding to them.

  15. Steve says:

    The narrative of creation, fall and redemption starts with creation. Now I know he is not too popular here as a fundamentalist but I do think the Christian community owes Ken Ham some gratitude and support in challenging the ubiquitously held belief in evolution. He may have some problems but he seems to be out there almost alone in what he is doing. Anyone else have any resources besides Ken?

  16. Josh the Baptist says:

    “All” was in response to “What areas?’.

    More grace for the homosexual and for the Trump supporter.

    For the followers of Rome and the followers of Azusa.

    Just more grace in general. If I can look at my brothers with love, that will be a start.

  17. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ken Ham is one I have to force myself to show grace.

  18. Michael says:

    I just pretend that Ham doesn’t exist…and for all intents and purposes he doesn’t in my world.

  19. Michael says:


    I can like people in other traditions just fine.

    However, I listened to two local sermons this weekend…Jesus wasn’t mentioned much except in the closing prayer, though he was given credit for the election of the new President.
    Neither came close to the narrative the church has been given…though both congregations believe that the proper narrative was preached.
    That’s a problem to me…

  20. Steve says:

    I don’t embrace Ham, however when it comes to the narrative of creation he seems to have a better grasp of it than N.T. Wright. I will give him that.

  21. Josh the Baptist says:

    As you ignore Ken Ham, I don’t listen to a lot of sermons. My pastor’s sermon was a home run. I’m sure if I tried to sit through a few well-known local sermons, I’d be ready to fight.

    And I don’t think I mean as much for the leaders, as I do for the average follower of different traditions. We have to come to grips with the fact that Christianity is an easy mark for bad guys who would like to come in and exploit the kind-hearted followers.That is across denominations, and requires vigilance on the part of the parishioner.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    People become used to good theology… People also become used to bad theology.
    People become used to good sermons… People also become used to bad sermons.

    It may be because “I’ve always gone to this church”… Or it may be because this church is close to my home… Or it may be because this church has a good nursery, or parking, or music… I don’t think it is the people’s fault.

    The responsibility, I believe, lies with the leadership – lay and clergy and, possibly, what is being taught in Bible Colleges and seminaries.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    By the way, the last time I went to my old seminary’s bookstore, I was shocked. It was once filled with wonderful theological works. Now, the “How To” books fill the shelves, with good theology relegated to an ever shrinking shelf…

  24. Muff Potter says:

    Forgive my denseness Dr. Arnold, but could you offer a short elaboration of the ring as an abstract (abstruse?) character in Tolkien’s ring cycle?
    I can see how the ring embodies Neecha’s (Nietzsche’s) will to power in terms of human frailty, but beyond that, I’m stumped.
    I thought Jackson (and the screen writers) did a magnificent job of showing how ordinary hobbits (and humans) can triumph over great evil even when the odds are heavily stacked against them.

  25. em ... again says:

    #5 is the sum of it all, i think – amen
    #7 – “Are we a peculiar people with a radical story of redemption or do we primarily identify with a particular temporal culture?” that IS the question that the evangelicals among us (mebbe others, too – dunno) need to be asking ourselves – no doubt!


  26. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, Peter Jackson in his interviews said that the Ring was a character in the films as much as any of the well know figures – Frodo, Sam, etc. His reasoning was the ring was what drove the action, changed people’s motivations, etc. In fact, Jackson considered the ring a main character because without it, nothing in the story would make sense.

  27. Jean says:


    I find in these discussions that people may read “creation, fall, redemption narrative” or “Eucharistic Community” and define those terms very differently. So, people may agree or disagree with you for the wrong reason.

    In so far as I think I understand you, I think it goes back to certain doctrines in American evangelicalism which some folks here deem secondary, but which actually have profound ramifications for the life of the church, discipleship and preaching.

    Historically, Christ crucified was the foundation (i.e., the solid rock) of the Church, church life, the liturgy and discipleship. Now look at what happens to that foundation when you introduce the following innovations:

    (1) Christ was preaching to the Jews under the old covenant, so our preaching will not emphasize Christ’s gospel, but will emphasize Paul’s.

    (2) If you are saved for eternity on the basis of your prayer for His forgiveness, then is not Christ’s job done? Why dwell on the past; we need to get on with the future. All of Christ’s promises regarding discipleship tend to end up with a cross of one form or another. So, let’s pretend that Christ’s preaching was for someone else or another time and let’s preach and teach about the victories won by the faithful of the old testament using Paul’s moral advice. If we’re going to have a church, we have to have something to say and offer to people. For some it’s charismatic manifestations; for others transcendental experiences; for others wealth and success; and for others curing moral failures. Christ can’t help with these. There’s no room at the inn.

    (3) If the saving is in our hands and one and done, then you are turning from the Word of God. Once you do that, you’ll abandon Christ’s means of grace. Then Eucharist is only thanksgiving (if that).

  28. em ... again says:

    “So, people may agree or disagree with you for the wrong reason. ” hmmm or perhaps not 🙂

    however, if one must consider participation in the Eucharist observance as the only true expression of the faith and the only reason to gather together (the only hope for spiritual gain?), then … perhaps you ARE right in your observation and yet …

    i think you are wrong – dunno, tho do i?

  29. I think Chris Rosebrough between 18 min & 25 min summarizes the cure for the evangelical problem that has led to the Christian narrative being embraced as a non Christian narrative.


    The whole discussion is worthwhile but I realize 2 hours is a larger investment than most are willing to make. But at least give the 7 min a try.

  30. filbertz says:

    Yeats is a beast of a poet…and the inclusion of this selection is wonderful. Just sayin’

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    #27 Jean,
    Good observations.

    I think most churches – evangelical across to mainline liberal – have embraced the post modern secular construct and simply dressed it up with a little religious language. For them, it is not about discipleship or the formation of real community. It is about “this moment” and eliciting a response in “this moment”. I don’t think we have always been honest about the fact that the Christian life and Christian discipleship is not easy, it’s hard. Loving others in an intentional Christian community takes work and lots of grace. “Church” in an auditorium with a show and a “theology light” message is easy. Church where you have to deal with people like Duane, Michael, Jean and MLD is hard.

    Often we don’t preach the narrative because we don’t live the narrative…

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    #29 MLD
    Good to see Chris again… was on his show a few years ago…

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane – did you get a chance to watch the part of the video clip I suggested? Would you agree this would solve the narrative issue – or at least add the needed authenticity to the narrative?

    PS. I am still unclear of what authenticity is in this context.

    Do you remember when you were on his show? I think he archives pretty far back. Chris and I were together at Ocean Hills Community Church before we became Lutherans.

  34. J Keller says:

    “…but often without “conviction” as they look to the practical realities of “paycheck and pension” or, perhaps even worse, cast a jealous eye at the full parking lot of the megachurch down the street that has embraced an entertainment/consumer approach replete with the latest audio-visual equipment, well rehearsed praise bands and development professionals on staff.”

    This whole piece is a compelling read to return to. I’m so glad I wondered over! (which I admit I have been doing from time to time).

    The entertainment/consumer approach is what has caused so many good people to feel squeezed out of the church, turning it into a place they no longer fit and can no longer support.

    The good news is it forces those who do desire community to find it where it exists, or create it themselves, keeping to the narrative once “held dear by every Christian body.”

    A call to authenticity for some has been a calling out of what is no longer acceptable.

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD – It was on our first album ‘Martyrs Prayers’ – 3-4 years back when he was based here in Indiana.

    From the seven or eight minutes I watched, I would agree. The narrative isn’t about us… it’s about God’s redemptive work. Authenticity is about not just “talking” the narrative, but “living” it… See #31 above…

  36. em ... again says:

    “Church where you have to deal with people like Duane, Michael, Jean and MLD is hard. ” shouldn’t be…

    Church isn’t hard, dealing with the devil is hard (with a bad end)… nothing is sweeter than feeding in God’s green pastures beside the still waters… nothing is more beautiful on this earth than a gathering of folk feeding on the Word – or more powerful

    the good that is done here on Phxp – IMHO – is to spotlight the false teachers and manipulators and to encourage Believers to trust God, to discern where they are or have been manipulated by men (generic) cloaked in sheepskins (hmmm ) when those men have the heart of the wolf … and, then hopefully, heal and move on in the Faith

    em again … aka the useful fool … just sayin … again 🙂

  37. Steve says:

    After listening to Chris, I decided to read the Anthansian creed for the first time in my life. I must say I agreed with everything in it. But out of all the churches I have been too, I have never heard of it referenced before. I think it was on this blog where I heard it mentioned for the first time. With that said, I can probably say I wasn’t taught that well about church history. However, most Christians aren’t biblical seminary scholars but just normal folks that have non ministry vocations. I am one such person. However, I probably am now more educated than most just because of my own research. So I guess my question is how important are the creeds to the average Christian that’s just trying to do the best they can? I sincerely ask because other than the apostle creed, most Christians that I know just aren’t familiar with them although I would imagine they probably would agree with most of it like I did.

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    #38 Steve
    As I’ve said in another thread, I think the Athanasian Creed is a bit of a stretch – especially in the context of a church service. I think, however, that there is real value in a congregation saying the Apostles Creed together in that it states what we believe in a succinct form. It can also form the basis for teaching. The Nicene Creed is more complete, but equally succinct when you consider the theological ground that is covered. Again, a great vehicle for teaching. I think sometimes we can sell short the average person in the pew. Providing them with a simple, memorable way in which to articulate their faith, I think, is a gift.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I see the importance of the creeds in this way; we stand together and confess what we as a church believe. At the same time, we are standing and confessing to each other what we as individuals believe as we give assurance to one another of a common faith. I don’t know about others, but we do the creed right before we share in communion. After we have heard that common bond we partake together as one.

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    The creeds give us a good landmark for where Christianity started out, when the church decided to codify Her beliefs.

    It is the way to measure your orthodoxy if you are interested in being in line with the historic Christian faith.

  41. Jean says:

    Josh wrote:

    “The creeds give us a good landmark for where Christianity started out, when the church decided to codify Her beliefs.

    It is the way to measure your orthodoxy if you are interested in being in line with the historic Christian faith.”

    So, you’ve moved on from primitive Christianity and have better things to do with lining up with the historic Christian faith? LOL

  42. J Keller says:

    Em again@37

    Very well said about the benefits of a good blog discussion like you guys have going on this one.

    And I agree about the sweetness of fellowship. To me that is what real community is about – two way relationship as we seek the Lord together and pray for each other’s families, careers and direction in life. Keeping it simple in method and authentic and real in purpose.

  43. Jean says:

    Josh wrote:

    “The creeds give us a good landmark for where Christianity started out, when the church decided to codify Her beliefs.

    It is the way to measure your orthodoxy if you are interested in being in line with the historic Christian faith.”

    So, you’ve moved on from primitive Christianity and have better things to do than lining up with the historic Christian faith? LOL

  44. Josh the Baptist says:

    “So, you’ve moved on from primitive Christianity and have better things to do with lining up with the historic Christian faith? LOL”

    Why the insult? I said nothing of the sort.

  45. Duane Arnold says:

    I think as well that the Creeds are about what’s important over against what is less important – i.e. “He shall come to judge the living and the dead”… just that… not post-trib, pre-trib, rapture, no rapture…etc. We are also making a common confession of faith with our Orthodox, RC, Lutheran, Anglican, etc., brothers and sisters all over the world…

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – you did make it sound as if the creed was just a starting point and when you said “if you are interested in being in line with the historic Christian faith.” as if there were options other than being in line with the historic Christian faith.

  47. Josh the Baptist says:

    There are other options – heresy.

  48. Jean says:


    “So, you’ve moved on from primitive Christianity and have better things to do with lining up with the historic Christian faith? LOL”

    “Why the insult? I said nothing of the sort.”

    Josh, why would you take my comment as an insult? I just took your belittling comment about the creeds, your attempt to minimize their value because you’re not into them, and run with your train of thought.

  49. Josh the Baptist says:

    Maybe re-read, Jean.

    I said if you want to be in line with the Historic Christian faith, you’ll have to line-up with the creeds.

    And that was belittling?

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – good, at least we can agree that denial of any parts of any of the 3 ecumenical creeds is heresy, then we are good. 🙂

  51. Josh the Baptist says:

    Of course it is heresy. Any departure from the established church teaching is heresy.

  52. Babylon's Dread says:

    When I listen to radio guys condemning Rick Warren I lose interest in anything else they want to tell me. Got no time for such spirits.

  53. dusty says:

    EM #37 Well said.

  54. Josh the Baptist says:

    The truth is that the person Roseborough is speaking of is such a stereotype, and such a minute number in comparison to the thousands of faithful pastors, that it is laughable. Especially from a guy who has built his brand better than 99% of the dreaded evangelical pastors.

  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As an example – listen to Warren and tell me if he is preaching the Christ or the Christian?

    You tell me – I just went in an randomly grabbed a recent Sunday sermon.


  56. Josh the Baptist says:

    Now you know I don’t like Rick Warren.

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It was more for Babs who seemed surprised or disappointed that anyone would have a real issue with Rick Warren.

    But I think it is important for all to listen – It will highlight that what most people hear week in and week out is about them and not about Jesus — and we know why they flock through the doors in these churches — who doesn’t like to listen to someone talk about them.

    I just reached the 28 min mark where Warren declared that his purpose as your spiritual leader, your pastor is to make sure you succeed in life.

    Scary stuff – not even Christian — more like a spiritualized Tony Robbins. 😉

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How do I know the direction for my like? Guru Rick reveals all on this recording. 🙂

  59. Jean says:

    I’m looking for a new diet…hoping Rick comes out soon with a preaching series on a new John the Baptist diet. We have a lot of locusts here in Iowa.

  60. em ... again says:

    Lord, i pray that your son Jean doesn’t have the gift of prophesy – i don’t want to eat bugs!

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