Donald Miller is in a room of 500 or 600 people, all waiting for him to speak. But as he steps behind the podium and begins, his voice seems more suited to a small group of five or six.

"Okay," he starts, "what are some of your favorite movies?"

A murmur of response—"Come on!" Miller encourages—and then people start shouting out titles. The Matrix! A Beautiful Mind! The Straight Story! Finding Nemo! The audience oohs and aahs at each other's choices. Little Women! Napoleon Dynamite! It's a Wonderful Life! The shouting goes on for a while; they forget this is a workshop.

"Okay, great," Miller says, bringing attention front and center. "Now, call out your favorite parts of the Nicene Creed."

Awkward giggles throughout the room—they know they've been had. Then one man pipes up: "It's a wonderful life!"

Miller laughs along with, maybe louder than, everyone in the room. He's enjoying that his point was made for him: We know our movies better than we know our creeds. And now self-help banalities—Your life can be wonderful—compete for our attention with the classic truths of the Christian story.

In the next half hour, Miller delivers a variation on a theme ascendant in evangelical Christianity: Truth is rooted in story, not in rational systems. The Christian mission is not well served when we speak in terms of spiritual laws or rational formulas. Propositional truths, when extracted from a narrative context, lack meaning. "The chief role of a Christian," he says, "is to tell a better story."

In keeping with the movie theme, Miller quotes at length from Robert McKee, the Hollywood screenwriting guru whose book Story (1997) is at once a detailed guide to the principles of narrative and a primer on the principles ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
'Nightmare of Nightmares' Subscriber Access Only
Virginia Tech's Korean Christians wrestle with the aftermath of a massacre.
Current IssueEvangelism, Iranian Style
Evangelism, Iranian Style Subscriber Access Only
Amid persecution and a travel ban, Iran’s youth want community and transformation from within.
RecommendedThree Reasons Why Evangelicals Stopped Advocating for the Environment
Three Reasons Why Evangelicals Stopped Advocating for the Environment
It's not theology, it's politics.
TrendingFinding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Editor's PickForgive Us Our Debts: How Christian College Grads Pay the Price
Forgive Us Our Debts: How Christian College Grads Pay the Price
Evangelical schools work to capture the real cost of student loans.
Christianity Today
A Better Storyteller
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.