I’d like to wrap up my reading and sharing on Joel Green’s Seized by Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture, with a closing reflection on the highlights for me of what Joel has to say.
1. Method for Scripture study. Joel has been teaching a version of the method he outlines in chapter 4 for quite a while now. To me, it is one that diligently connects both with academy and pastorate. Further, I appreciate the additional category under “intertext” of the ancient creedal traditions of the Church as appropriate companions for illuminating the meaning of Scripture. If we are to read the Bible as Joel wants us to, as Scripture, then the ancient creeds are wholly appropriate guides to the faith tradition into which Scripture is forming us as God’s people.
2. Conception of Scriptural authority. Joel manages to maintain a high regard for the Scriptures and their place in the Christian life. At the same time, he roundly critiques conceptions of Scriptural authority (in particular, conservative evangelical and fundamentalist ones) that are foreign to the nature of Scripture itself and which, while making for good gatekeepers concerning who’s in and who’s out, do not guide us into faithful practice in interpreting and embodying Scripture, which happens to be the chief aim of Scripture and calling of the Church.
3. Articulation of our moorings as we approach Scriptural interpretation. From listening to “Joelisms” in class lectures, I might have expected the term “compass points” to surface in reference to the 4 points within the presentation of chapter 3: “our reading of the Bible as Scripture must be ecclesially located, theologically fashioned, critically engaged, and Spirit-imbued.” (p. 66)
4. The discussion of Scripture’s work in conversion. “And what is conversion, but transformation of the theological imagination, which includes incorporation into the community of believers adn concomitant practices?” (p. 47)
5. Clarifying the address of Scripture as being to the Church Universal. “The problem is not our lack of information about folk in the first century. The problem is theological. What separates us from the biblical text is not “the strange world of the Bible as much as its unhandy, inconvenient claims on our lives.” (p. 55)
6. That the aim of Scripture is to form us as the people of God. That should be obvious with the least about of reflection on Scripture and the work of leaders in the church, but I have a way of missing what’s right in front of my nose plenty of times, so I state it just the same.
There are probably several more that I could lift up, but that will do. I am continuing Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience for another month or so, since it’s on a weekly basis and I’m leading 2 Wednesday morning mens’ groups through it. I’ll be looking to add another book to read and share here soon. In the meantime, perhaps I can return to Candice Milliard’s account of Teddy Roosevelt’s trip down The River of Doubt before moving back into something theological/churchy.