In the work of Lesslie Newbigin, Stanley Hauerwas, Gerald Laughlin, and many others, the "Christian story" is a communal one: the life of the individual Christian, on this account, achieves meaning only through participation in this communally recounted narrative. These thinkers, says Alan Jacobs, do not deny that the Christian faith makes propositional claims, but they do tend to understand such propositions as having their proper force only within the context of God's overarching narrative of human history.
While a tremendously important movement, Jacobs acknowledges, something has perhaps been neglected in the development of this narrative theology ? the narrative dimension of individual Christian lives. Jacobs employs a critical approach to literary narratives, especially autobiographies and memoirs, to help us think theologically about the shape of personal lives.
Looking Before and After encourages us to ask how individual lives can, in a specifically Christian sense, be meaningful, how we can discern and rightly interpret those meanings, and how we might tell our own stories in ways that avoid the dangers of presumption and despair. This book reinvigorates narrative theology and helps to demonstrate the power of individual life stories when they are properly told and properly understood.