Nick Carter has just added a comment to an old article called Jesus, God and narrative theology. He asks about how we deal with the apparent tension between a narrative theology - at least as I described it in that post - and the need to establish and defend doctrinal formulations:
To my mind part of the value of a narrative theology lies in the fact that it restores the autonomy or givenness of the biblical texts. These texts are always subject to interpretation, but it is important in some way to ensure that the theology - the system of beliefs - we derive from them is always subordinate to the texts: we keep returning to what is in effect for us an unchanging literary deposit, and we keep asking new and difficult questions about it. All theological discussion, all interpretation, all doctrinal formulation, is fluid: only the texts - perhaps only the unread texts - remain fundamentally constant.
That seems to me at least to relativize the debates we have about, say, the nature of Christ. I would suggest that Christendom (in effect, Christianity as we know it) developed an interpretation of the nature of Christ that served its various political, social, cultural and intellectual interests. By and large that remains the dominant ‘model’ for our understanding today. I don’t think that the Christendom model is fully adequate as a summation of the biblical data, and I would argue that the post-Christendom church will need to develop a different model. At the present moment, however, it seems more important to safeguard the integrity and priority of the biblical narrative and subject our various doctrinal frameworks to thoroughgoing critique. That is not an attempt to disallow arbitration between theologies - I am as anxious to promote a particular reading of the texts as anyone else. But it does help us to maintain a certain (postmodern) self-awareness of how those frameworks potentially mislead the interpreter.
The other point to make here is that narrative theology has its own rules and generates its own debates - they are simply different to those that we associate with systematic or dogmatic approaches to theology. We might consider - this would be somewhat paradigmatic - how Jesus both told and interpreted parables in order to convey his sense of what was happening through his presence in the midst of Israel. Or we might consider the difference between faith as belief in a universal myth and faith as trust in God under difficult historical conditions.
(It seems to me that the problem with much modern theology is not so much that it is propositional but that it has reduced the biblical narrative to a mythology of personal salvation, not so different from gnosticism, which is then translated into propositional statements in order to prevent its corruption.)
Finally, there is indeed a lot of refuting of false teachers and false doctrines in the New Testament, but to some extent that must be regarded as a matter of historical context: the need to define a set of new and quite radical beliefs in the absence of the sort of the deeply instilled doctrinal structures that currently undergird the church’s thinking - and more importantly, the need to maintain the loyalty of the early communities to these teachings - the gospel - when they were under considerable pressure to abandon them. This is not where we are today. Our challenge now, it seems to me, is not primarily to define and defend but to deconstruct and re-read in order to understand anew the vocation of the people of God.