‘We Find Ourselves at an Impasse’
Adam Hill, a minister at the Rochester Church of Christ in Michigan, writing at Wineskins:
We find ourselves arguing over how to most healthily read the Bible altogether. Many in our fellowship (myself among them) no longer assume that a hermeneutic built on commands, examples, and necessary inferences is consistently correct or even healthy. So we find ourselves at an impasse, because neither side is playing the game with the same set of rules. We no longer all agree that the scales are fair—and some of us believe the scales are not even the best tool for the job at all.
He argues that the question of hermeneutics must come before the question of interpretation. Not, “what does the Bible say” but “how does the Bible speak?”
One starting point to move forward: better preaching. For example, less preaching on morals and virtues and more about God’s mission:
So, the point of—let’s say—Esther is not to tell people to be more courageous (yes, I have preached that sermon before). You might as well tell them to be prettier too. The larger point of Esther is that God is still at work to redeem everything, and God uses every opportunity—even our “diaspora” moments where we feel so weak and powerless and caught up in things beyond our control—to move forward on the mission of redemption. We are not forgotten. That is gospel in light of the biblical narrative as a whole.
Over time and leading by example, the church’s way of reading the Bible can change.
When we as preachers and teachers relentlessly communicate everything in light of the grand story of the gospel (instead of stopping at the pop-psychology and expected personal piety boost that moralism offers), we begin to change the culture of Bible reading in our community. We begin to tap into the collective imagination that our church shares regarding scripture and how to use it.
This calls for great patience. It will take years to retrain our eyes to see something else, to get us to read something in a new light. And it will take much longer if we don’t learn to read together. We must cultivate space in our assemblies for us to read scripture together and imagine the world in light of that gospel truth together.
Don’t miss Greg McKinzie’s response.