Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ian on John Webster on the Bible

I've been in touch with a guy named Ian who is doing a Master's degree over at the University of Aberdeen and he's been helping me out with some of the details of considering a move to Scotland. As a result I have been keeping an eye on his blog, the stoop, and I thought his most recent post on the place of the Bible in Christian ministry was really good.

The following exerpt was notable to me not only for its content, but for the insight it gives me into the approach of my soon-to-be doctoral supervisor, John Webster. Ian writes:

"Webster would argue that we ought to begin by maintaining not that the text is inspired and infallible, but that God, who reveals himself through the Bible, is the One who inspires. Therefore, we should approach the Bible as a text through which God reveals God’s self, not allowing our ministry to be defined by the worshipping of and strict adherence to the text itself, but rather by trust, worship and obedience in relation to the God that the text reveals. In relation to ministry, therefore, the Bible must be read as an account of God’s self-revealing work in creation, as a text that must be interpreted in context and as a story that demands active participation. . . .

A more communal and narrative mode of reading is necessary. Modern modes of reading have encourage individuals to examine the text on their own in search of certainty and fact, that which can be applied to daily living and held onto in the face of immediate and imminent personal experience. As readings by George Lindbeck and Stanley Hauerwas reminded us, however, we are to approach the Bible as an all-embracing story of the past and present dealings of the triune God with his creation and his people. Through this mode of reading, there will be a renewed sense of our place within the text, and how it is to be read and lived out within the context of our specific communities."

Read it all, including an endorsement of one of the best books I've ever read on this topiv (by Fowl and Jones), here.


Dustin Resch said...

Nice quote. Webster's book, Holy Scripture, is one of my all time favorites due to the posture it reminds the Church to take before the Bible. There is still the small matter of actually reading the Scripture in the life of the Church, though... I'm looking forward to Webster's commentary on Ephesians to see how does that. As an aside... one of the greatest surprises I had at my university was taking seminars from several professors on the history of interpretation. I'm (finally)hopeful about the future of evangelicals, Scripture and theological interpretation!

Anonymous said...

hmm...i guess evangelicals have overstressed personal devotions and neglected a community approach to the authority of scripture. Don't you think we need to be careful to not negate the inspired infallible aspect of holy writ? Surely a wholistic view of interpretation and application should not disqualify the very foundation of the Bible's authority. That's why i liked his opening sentence where he says "ought to begin..." Stu