Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Approach to Scripture

When we approach Scripture, should we approach it from the standpoint of an I-It relationship or an I-Thou relationship? Both approaches seem to have problems. I-It turns Scripture into a lifeless, passive text that gives us all the power. I-Thou suggests that in dealing with Scripture we are dealing with God himself, thus turning the Bible into an idol.

Perhaps what we encounter in our reading of Scripture is not God directly but the community of God's people who bear faithful witness to the God who makes their life as a community possible. The Thou is not God; it is the Spirit-inspired community through whom alone we can come to know God.

I will have to think about this a lot more, but might it be fair to say this?:

Paul (and the rest of the NT writers?) did not write what we call Scripture so that its readers would come to know God. Scripture therefore, is not primarily -- or at least not only -- a revelation of God. It is a revelation of what it means to be the people of God. The New Testament was written so that its readers would know who the people of God are, and the kind of life which constitutes that people.

To use Hays against Hays, the Bible is about God and us. It has to be. Paul's ecclesiocentric hermeneutic demands that we take the church's role in the drama with full seriousness, because it is through the church the wisdom of God is manifested.

Of course this being true, what I have presented becomes a false dichotomy. Paul wrote Scripture so that his readers would become the kind of community in which and through which God can be known. To paraphrase Barth, the revelation of God and the people of God, the people of God and the revelation of God, are not two things but one.

The little I know of Barth tells me that he might rightly disagree with such a statement, but that's neither here nor there.

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