Sunday, September 21, 2008

MONDAY MUSINGS: The Blue Parakeet, part 2

I have been granted the privilege of being an advance reader for Scot McKnight's, THE BLUE PARAKEET: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (Zondervan, pub. date 11/1/2008). Our "Monday Musings" for the next several weeks will focus on understanding and responding to Scot's book...

In seminary, I came across Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren's book, How to Read a Book. How I wish I had read this much earlier! And how it changed my understanding of how to read the Bible! I have had other epiphanies like this over the years involving the "how" of studying Scripture. Because these experiences have been so important to me, one of my emphases in teaching is always to help people understand how to read the Bible as much as to teach them what it says.

I am having one of those profitable experiences right now, as I read Scot McKnight's upcoming book. In chapter two, he sets forth three ways that he has observed people reading the Bible.
  • There are those who read to retrieve. The Bible is read to retrieve the practices described therein, and then re-create them in our own lives. The problem with this, of course, is that we can never live first-century lives in the twenty-first century. A better way is to engage in the ongoing adoption of the past, adapting it to new conditions in a way that is faithful to the Bible.
  • There are those who read through tradition. Who decides what we should adopt and what we should adapt? Who decides what is faithfulness to Scripture? Some believe we can only do this if we read the Bible with the safeguard of an authoritative tradition that locks down our interpretations. Scot identifies the danger of this approach—traditionalism. Many of our ancestors were adapting the teachings of the Bible to their own day, and we can no more continue to live in that era than we can in Biblical times. However, we can read in the context of the Great Tradition— reading for ourselves but in a way that is responsible to what the church has always believed. And therefore, he commends the third way:
  • There are those who read with tradition. This comes close to the great principle of Reformation Protestantism: reformed and always reforming. We appreciate and respect the wisdom of those who have studied the Scriptures before us. At times we disagree with their interpretations and seek to reform the practices that grew out of them. We also recognize that God is still on the move today, the Spirit is still speaking to the churches, the Word of God is still living and active. In our culture, in our day, facing the issues that challenge us, the Bible will come to life for us and guide us in a plain path.
After these general observations and admonitions, Scot McKnight challenges us specifically to read the Bible as story, to learn to listen, and to develop discernment. Next time we'll examine what it means to read the Bible as story, and some of the less helpful habits many of us maintain in approaching the Scriptures.

1 comment:

Max Weismann said...

We have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos on the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

When we discovered them and how intrinsically edifying they are, we negotiated an agreement with Encyclopaedia Britannica to be the exclusive worldwide agent to make them available.

For those of you who teach, this is great for the classroom.

I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more: