Keller’s 5 Cultural Narratives




I followed with interest some of the ‘Basics Conference’ that happened in Ohio last month via the website and twitter feed. They had the privilege of learning from Ali Begg, David Robertson, and Tim Keller. In one of Keller’s sessions he outlined five cultural narratives that are prevalent in the contemporary mindset. I thought they were useful and insightful so I’ve noted them down for you as follows (the bits in brackets are my labels, not Tim’s):

  1. The Identity Narrative (individualism) – ‘be yourself’
  2. The ‘Truth’ Narrative (pluralism) – self-authorizing truth and morality – ‘only I can determine right and wrong for me’
  3. The Freedom Narrative (liberalism) – ‘I must be free to live my life and express myself how I want’
  4. Science and Technology Narrative (a sort of positive spin on materialism?) – ‘religion keeps you from all these good things that can help’
  5. The History Narrative (modernism; add 1-3 in to the mix gives post-modernism) – ‘history/tradition is bad; new is good’

Tim’s material shares similarities with that James Emery White in The Rise of the Nones, and I think his insights are pretty much spot on for much of our culture. The challenge for preachers is to identify these various narratives and get to work on the subversive fulfilment of them.

What do you think? Is he missing any? Are they all equally prominent? How might we address them?

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts.