According to Stanley Hauerwas, modernity is characterised by a "desire to explain". This is why the scientific method is given pride of place when it comes to deciding what is true. In the link I posted below, Ricky Gervais says he is an atheist because "there is no scientific evidence" for the existence of God. Whether Gervais's statement is true is another matter, but say that it is. Say that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest God exists. Does this fact, or indeed lack of "facts", require us to disbelieve the existence of God?
A phrase quoted by Merold Westphal sums up the position of scientism - "Anything my net doesn't catch isn't a fish". In other words, "If my method can't examine and explain it, then "it" can't be true." There is a subtle move here from a position that says "Science gives us knowledge of reality" to one which affirms, along with Gervais and many others, that "Nothing but science gives us knowledge of reality." William James says of this latter position,
a rule of thinking which would absolutely prevent me from ackowledging certain kinds of truth if those kinds of truth were really there, would be an irrational rule.
Stanley Hauerwas says that the "desire to explain" is pervasive within the church. It is an act of unhealthy control, especially when it comes to Scripture. We apply our scientific methods to the Bible in order to "get behind" the text and uncover what's really there. And of course it goes without saying that "anything my net doesn't catch isn't fish." That is, anything my hermeneutic doesn't uncover isn't relevant.
When it comes to the interface of Scripture and sermon,
Mogwai fear satan Hauerwas fears explanation:
I fear that attempts to "explain" or "translate" Scripture too often manifest our attempt to make God conform to our needs. Of course God does love us, but his love usually challanges the presumption that we know what we need. The presumption that the gospel is "all about us" too often leads us to think "good" sermons are those "I got something out of." But sermons, at least if they are faithful to Scripture, are not about us - they are about God. That a sermon should direct our attention to God does not preclude that we should "get something out of it." But you will have an indication that what you got may be true if you are frightened by what you heard.
If explanations aren't the goal, then what is? "Showing connections" is the Hauerwasian answer. I won't explain what he means by that, partly because it would defeat the purpose of this post, but mostly because I don't know what he means by that.
For Hauerwas, the truth which all methods -- including the scientific method -- ought to point towards is that the world is "judged and redeemed by Christ". The goal of all truth-telling, then, is to help us develop the "imaginative skills" so that we can see the world in this light. Hauerwas applies this specifically to sermons, but numerous connections can be made between his statement and other disciplines.