The Upper Story and the Lower Story

A key aspect of incarnational Trinitarian theology is understanding how Scripture distinguishes between what we might call the Upper Story and the Lower Story. The Upper Story is reality as viewed from God's objective perspective, and the Lower Story is reality as viewed from our subjective perspective. Sometimes these two are referred to as universal and personal with the former pertaining to what Scripture refers to as kairos time and the latter as kronos time. Here is a diagram that integrates these concepts:

These concepts and their interrelationships flow from a Hebraic worldview (the frame of reference, which dominates Holy Scripture) with the diagram illustrating the reality that what God has done for us in Christ, "from the foundation of the world" is the objective Upper Story reality. God's reality then becomes our personal/subjective Lower Story reality when we believe (and thus, in faith, receive) both who God in Christ is for us, and what Christ has done (and continues to do) on our behalf as our representative and substitute (via his vicarious humanity).

From the Upper Story perspective I proclaim the truth that I was born again 2,000 years ago in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. At the same time I proclaim from the Lower Story perspective that I was born again at age 14 when the Spirit opened the eyes of my heart to receive, in faith, what had been mine all along in Christ, namely, God's unconditional forgiveness, acceptance and adoption of me as his dearly beloved child.

It is vital to note that Jesus (who is God and humanity united in one person) is, in love, sovereignly present in both the Upper Story and Lower Story. He inhabits and thus defines both kairos and kronos time. In Christ there is no dualism, and thus no cause for "two-sphere thinking." It's not "either I was born again 2,000 years ago" -or- "I was born again at age 14." Rather, it is because I was born from above in Christ 2,000 years ago, that when I was enlightened by the Spirit at age 14, what was objectively true for me all along became subjectively true in my personal (14 year old) experience--a subjective experience that has continued to grow deeper through the perfecting work of the Spirit.

Understand this: both the objective and the subjective are real and important (God makes them so!). However, our subjective, Lower Story experience is real (meaningful) only because the objective, Upper Story reality, which undergirds and defines it, is true and, in fact, is the greater truth (the truth that sets you free!).

For a more detailed discussion of this important topic in an earlier post, click here.