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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bible Study

I really appreciated Andy Goodliff's rant screed well thought out concerns about 'Bible study' as it is usually done (although I think it is a re-posting of something from last year). And he implies that his criticism runs out to systematic theology as it is often done (particularly in conservative evangelical circles), as well. I would echo this, particularly as it applies to systematic theology.

One of the greatest ironies for me in doing a PhD in systematic theology,* is that the Bible has come alive for me again. So many people testify that in seminary and doctoral studies the Bible became flat and tiresome or intolerably alien and uninspiring for them. My seminary experience was mixed rather than awful (thanks - for the good - in part to AKMA), but it is really at the doctoral level that I have learned to appreciate the depths and unmasterability of the Scriptures. It is not awful but awesome. Thanks, largely, to my supervisor Dan Hardy for that. I have re-learned to read the Bible not just for scholarship or theology but also devotionally. It seems far far deeper than it ever has to me, and, as with any late realisation, I regret the years that I missed it all.

A major part of this has been refusing to give to the Bible neat and tidy categories; another part has been reading and re-reading and re-reading again.

Andy has written his post almost in a 'ten propositions' format, but there are more propositions, and they're all together. Great stuff; go and check it out. Here is a taster:

The bible is a dangerous, world-changing, life-altering text that is out to transform the reader. The bible wants to shape our imagination to the tune of Christ.

The bible is always fresh and never stale. The bible does not put God or truth into neat statements. The bible is not God's prison.

*or constructive theology or Christian doctrine, depending on what kind of day I'm having.

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