Intellectual Lightbulb

I just figured out how to put into words why I’m unlike many of my colleagues in Biblical Studies:

I don’t see biblical interpretation as an end in itself. Rather it’s a means for forming Christians according to the mind of Christ—forming holy habits—as communicated by preaching and enacted in liturgy and ascetical theology.

That’s not to say that all of my colleagues somehow think that biblical interpretation is an end, but that I feel the need to go all the way to the application end where not all of them do. This isn’t a critique of biblical scholars, it’s just a realization of why my scholarship and interests head off in different places.

Another angle from which to approach it might be this: Approaches to preaching, liturgy, and ascetical theology that aren’t firmly grounded in the Scriptures will range from the anemic to the futile.

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3 Responses to Intellectual Lightbulb

  1. Caelius Spinator says:

    This is a major theme of AKMA’s last book. I can’t say he presents anything particular helpful to you beyond pointing out that certain esoteric debates aren’t esoteric at all because of the dimension of application in them.

  2. John-Julian, OJN says:

    “Approaches to preaching, liturgy, and ascetical theology that aren’t firmly grounded in the Scriptures will range from the anemic to the futile.”

    I do find myself a bit nervous and wondering about the rigid specificity of this one, Derek. I mean, there are a number of border-line cases where the “grounding in Scripture” is somewhat dubious (e.g. the doctrine of the Holy Trinity; the penitential practice of Advent (or even Lent); the Holy Order of priesthood (as over against episcopacy); equality for gays; or even recitation of the Divine Office; the practice of usury; etc.

    I suppose the issue is how one defines “firmly grounded”.

  3. I don’t see this as rigid at all, Father. What I am most concerned about is when these things are spun out of fancy and fantasy and have no connection with the solid meat of the Gospel proclamation. The chief danger that I see currently facing the Episcopal Church is when preaching, liturgy, and theology is founded in feel-good psychology and the language of human rights–particularly when it doesn’t need to be!

    I’ll be more than happy to—and have in the past—argue for all the things that you listed above (though I hate to argue on behalf of usury…) on Scriptural grounds, including how arguments from Tradition, i.e. how our forebearers have wrestled with Scripture in their places and times.

    What drives me crazy is when these arguments can be made but are not—or are done sloppily.

    Caelius,
    I haven’t seen AKMA’s new book but I’m not surprised. I’m not alone in the guild and folks like AKMA and my director are models and mentors, we’re just not as common as I believe we used to be…

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