Many critics like to claim that George MacDonald was a "failed minister" who, having no other recourse, was forced to write. Yet the truth is that MacDonald continued to preach throughout his life, when his health allowed, and that he turned down some very desirable pulpit offers. He was convinced that his stories and poetry were themselves significant pastoral ministry, and he took his role as author very seriously. "The best thing you can do for your fellow," he wrote, "next to rousing his conscience, is—not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself."
MacDonald recognized the potential of being transformed by stories—that the reader or listener could learn within the framework of the story itself. He believed that readers could come to a better understanding of God if what they read was shaped by "Sacred Story"—both Scripture and the stories influenced by Scripture. He believed that an understanding of the intrinsically relational God could not be grasped outside of a relational hermeneutic; that a list of dry propositions would never be able to convey what the fullness of story—story rooted in Sacred Story—could. This is a surprisingly contemporary conviction, and yet one as old as Genesis. For MacDonald, it is also as relevant as Genesis.
What pastor does not know that if one desires to grab the attention of every tired and pre-occupied person in the pew, a story rarely fails? And that the story might be the only thing listeners remember the following week? Unfortunately, this is often seen as a failing of the people. Yet from the very beginning Scripture is filled with stories and references to them. Indeed there is more story in the Bible than ...