The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Blue Parakeet 2

In chapter 2 of Scot McKnight's the Blue Parakeet, Scot suggests that there are 3 ways to approach the Bible.
1. Reading to Retrieve. "We return to the times of the Bible in order to retrieve biblical ideas and practices for today". If Moses or Peter tell us something then we do because it says so. Some try to retrieve all and some seek only what can be savaged. A. J. Jacobs humors book The Year of Living Biblically is a great example of this and also a great Christmas gift to give or to ask for! Scot makes the point that God spoke in Moses' day is Moses' way and God spoke in Paul's day in Paul's way and we are called to carry on that pattern in our world today.

2. Reading through tradition. His point here is that "ordinary people need to learn to read the Bible through tradition or they will misread the Bible and create schisms in the church. Scot points out the positive and the negative of reading through tradition with the terms "Great Tradition" and traditionalism.
The Great Tradition is how the church everywhere has always read the Bible. Examples are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. These point us toward where God has led the church and see the churches most important doctrines.
is the "inflexible, don't-ask-questions, do-it-the-way-it-has-always-been-done approach to Bible reading." Reading through tradition like this means that it is impossible for renewal and adaptation.
Scot gives 6 steps to traditionalism and i think its important that we come to know these so we can recognize them.
1. We read the Bible
2. We confront a current issues and we make a decision about an issue- (like baptizing infants or adults or woman preachers)
3. We fossilize our decision and it becomes a tradition. Somewhere around here we become absolutely convinced our tradition is a perfect interpretation of the Bible.
4. We are bound to our tradition forever. It is now traditionalism.
5. We are bound to read the Bible through our tradition.
6.Those who question our tradition are suspect or, worse yet, kicked out of our church.
Scot makes the point that the Bible points us away from traditionalism. "They went back to the Bible so they could come forward into the present."

3. Reading with tradition. "We need to go back to the Bible so we can move forward through the church and speak God's Word in our days in our ways." We are to remember, "honor" the past without giving the past the final authority. This brings us back to the process of renewal.


Craig L. Adams said...

Thanks for this summary. The thoughts on Tradition are interesting. I'm going to have to think about that. I've tended to think of it this way in the past: one always gains deeper insight into the Bible by being part of a Bible study group. Awareness of Tradition extends the Bible study group to include the saints from other generations and times.

Alison said...

I have a problem with Scot's "Great Tradition". I don't believe there exists one way that the church everywhere has always read the Bible. He says that because many people have neglected to read through theology we are now livivg in a church with a myriad of interpreters, which is a problem for him. I think failure to be open to fresh interpretation through the Holy Spirit is being a slave to traditionalism. He seems to give as much weight or more to the Creeds as to the words of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, written about 300 years closer to the time of Jesus.