I’ve got a new post up at the Cafe today. It’s on the inevitable topic of religion and politics. (I’m a little puzzled by the title, but ok…)
I also want to draw attention to yesterday’s piece on parables. I try to argue for a pluraity of readings when it comes to the Scriptures. That is, the *more* readings that make sense of a passage within the reasonable limits of a passage’s content and context is a good thing. And, on the whole, I greatly prefer both/and approaches to either/or approaches.
In reference to yesterday’s piece and its discussion, I do indeed want to embrace new methodologies and new ways of looking at the biblical text. What bothers me, though, is when we get a sense that a new reading replaces or supercedes traditional readings simply because it’s new and novel. Yes, we should challenge hegemonic readings that insist that there’s only one way to read a passage and I try hard not to fall into that (though being human, I fail at times…). Nevertheless one of the ironies of the modern situation is that those seeking to overturn old hegemonies are at risk of creating new hegemonies. Yes, let’s multiply readings.
Furthermore when we multiply readings, I think it’s important to keep in mind Paul’s words about spiritual wisdom. The point is not pride but edification. Many readings may well be valid. But it’s our task as leaders and those who care for the church to determine—in humility and to the best of our abilities—which words are most edifying to whom and at what times. Sometimes I need words of rebuke and interpretations that challenge my favorite traditional readings–whether they be early medieval traditions or scholarly traditions. On the other hand, sometimes I need to be re-confronted by a traditional interpretation, challenged to discover why it has returned time and again to Christian minds despite shifting cultures, intellectual currents, and spiritual fads.