Long Story Short: Finding your place in God’s unfolding story, by Andy Frost

by
19 October 2018

Mike Starkey reviews a title aimed at winning over the young sceptic

WHAT story is your life a part of? Andy Frost writes a breezy apologetic for historic Christianity by exploring the big narratives that give people’s lives meaning.

Frost, the head of the UK evangelistic agency Share Jesus International, writes with the sceptical young adult in mind. He seeks to show his readers that they have almost certainly accepted one of the unspoken grand narratives popular in our day: happiness, safety, or significance. He then retells the biblical story of redemption, offering this as a more compelling and meaningful story to live by.

This is an attractive book, which comes alive when the author tells personal stories, such as those of fellow-pilgrims whom he met while walking the Camino de Santiago. It also includes some telling quotations, including one from the philosopher Ivan Illich, who reflects that the way to change a society is not by revolution or reformation, but by telling a better story.

I came away with two hesitations. One is that some of Frost’s illustrations let him down. He compares life stories based on happiness, safety, and significance to a fake painting discovered in a museum of contemporary art. This not only sounds slightly arrogant: it is not a helpful image, in any case, as you don’t really inhabit a painting or find your bearings in it, as you do in an overarching story.

My other query is over Frost’s rather naïve anticipation of possible objections from his readers. Some, he says, will refuse the Christian story, despite its evident appeal, because they find it too demanding. But we live in an age when the Christian story itself is often presented as a narrative of oppression, most powerfully in the TV serialisation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Frost’s sceptical young readers are unlikely to see Christianity as admirable but costly. Far more probably, they will assume that it is repressive and discredited.

The Revd Mike Starkey is a tutor for Church Army and author of the new Why on Earth . . . ? apologetics resource for home groups.


Long Story Short: Finding your place in God’s unfolding story
Andy Frost
SPCK £7.99
(978-0-281-07931-5)
Church Times Bookshop £7.20

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