In his latest book Preaching Tim Keller addresses five narratives the modern mind tells itself that function almost as self-evident indisputable truths. Among these are:
- The Rationality Narrative
- The History Narrative
- The Society Narrative
- The Morality/Justice Narrative
- The Identity Narrative
The “Identity narrative” says that we must discover our deepest desires and longings and then do all we can do to realize them, regardless of constraint or opposition. Interestingly enough – he uses Disney’s Frozen as a prime example of this Identity narrative.
The new late-modern, narrative, however goes beyond merely understanding and directing our own passions to enthroning them. Its essence is captured by the words of the song “Let it Go” in the Disney movie Frozen. The song is sung by a character determined no longer to be the “good girl” that her family and society had wanted her to be. Instead she would “let go” and express what she had been holding back inside. There is “no right or wrong, no rules” for her. This is a good example of the expressive individualism (Robert) Bellah described. Identity is not realized, as in traditional societies, by sublimating our individual desires for the good of our family and people. Instead we become ourselves only by asserting our individual desires against society, by expressing our feelings and fulfilling our dreams regardless of what anyone says. (134)
Obviously there are some problems with this late-modern/post-modern narrative. First it assumes that our desires are coherent or good. Second, identity built on ebbing and flowing desires is very unstable. Third, Our desires are often conflicting. Fourth, our desires when not fulfilled lead to crushing feelings of failure because we couldn’t “self-realize.”
That’s why we need the biblical account of identity. The biblical account of identity says that we certainly have deep desires in our hearts, but some of those desires will actually prevent us from being our “true selves.” Our true self is only found in the identity that God bestows to us because of Christ.