Facts or Story

I had been taking classes at the university filled with facts. Calculus, engineering mechanics, chemistry—memorize facts and learn to work the formulas you were given.

Then I took my first Liberal Arts class—American History. At the first mid-term I wrote all the facts. Was graded a D. The graduate assistant told me that I didn’t show that I understood what really happened during the time covered by the test. For the next test, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. All the facts were in there, but I retold the story of the time covered by that test. Received an A.

I learned a lesson. Facts are nice, but understanding how they fit is better. I built a career on that.

Guy Kawasaki is a legend in Silicon Valley. He has a new podcast where he interviews Remarkable People. Recently Stanford history professor Sam Wineburg told of his son studying for an important test at school. “Did the Korean War occur before World War II or after?” he asked. Wineburg said, “I realized that he didn’t understand the sweep of American history. Without understanding the sweep of history from World War I to World War II to the Korean War, he would not have a context for understanding the Cold War.” He said that you can’t just try to remember a bunch of disjointed facts.

And I thought, “Many of us as Christians or seekers treat the Bible much like my engineering classes or the way Wineburg’s son had been taught history—a bunch of disjointed facts thrown at us to memorize.”

We read the writings of the Apostle Paul as if they were recipes or lists of commandments. We don’t understand the story. Where he came from, what he was trying to do, what the culture and understanding of his audience were, where it fits in the story of our life.

This leads to the type of Christian who gathers with like-minded people and point to the failures and shortcomings of others.

What we should be doing is understanding the story, then living the story, then helping others to join the story.

One Response to “Facts or Story”

  1. asmussenbak0.unblog.fr Says:


    Facts or Story | Faith Venture

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