We have been discussing the role of narrative in how we interpret Scripture and in what sense we view it as authoritative. N.T. Wright, in the opening book of his Christian Origins and the Question of God series proposes one way that stories become authoritative explanations for the way things are:
One asks questions because one’s present story is in some way either puzzling or incomplete. I am driving along the road, thinking about all sorts of things, but taking for granted an underlying story about cars, driving and roads. The car then begins to shudder. At once I begin to tell myself a variety of stories which might explain this phenomenon. Perhaps the council has been digging up this bit of road, and has not yet smoothed it out again. Perhaps I have a flat tyre. Perhaps there is something wrong with the suspension. These hypotheses offer themselves to me as potential missing links within the stories; when inserted appropriately, they turn my habitual stories into would-be explanatory stories. Where they themselves come from is difficult to describe, though it is not unimportant: they appear to arrive by a process of intuition. Then (resuming the illustration) the car behind me flashes its lights, and the driver points at one of my wheels. At once the second story looms larger. I pull over and examine the tyre, which, sure enough, is looking decidedly sorry for itself. Two further bits of data, namely, the action of the other driver and the sight of the tyre, convince me that the second story meshes with reality. One of the stories I have been telling has emerged as a successful explanatory story. Of course, there may also be something less than perfect with the road, and the suspension; but the simplest explanation is that the shuddering was caused by the flat tyre. At each stage of the process what matters can best be expressed in terms of story: the story which prompts the question, the new stories which offer themselves in explanation, and the success of one of these stories in including all the relevant data, doing so within a clear and simple framework, and contributing to a better understanding of other stories (I always was just a bit suspicious of the garage where I had bought those tyres).