Friday, October 10, 2008

Reading the Bible with Scot McKnight (2)

In chapter two of Scot McKnight’s new book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible we read about a blue parakeet among sparrows. Bizarre? This story of backyard birdwatching gives Scot an analogy with what he calls blue parakeet passages in the Bible. Passages like these are those that stand out and cause us to query: does this passage apply today? What happens to us when we encounter difficult parts of the Bible? How do we read them/it?

Although there are many ways to read the Bible, Scot explores three:

Reading to Retrieve; Reading through Tradition; Reading with Tradition.

1) Reading to retrieve attempts to mine the days of old for today. But Scot points out that there is often no one to one correspondence between the biblical times and our own. The apostle Paul, already in the NT is adapting, (Jew to Jew, Gentile to Gentile), without abandoning the truth of God’s revelation. We, like Paul, have to find ways to adopt and adapt. Scot clearly warns that culture must not dictate as the gospel truths are transcultural. Yet, we have to work out these truths in our own day.

2) Reading through tradition asserts that, while it is important to learn to read the Bible oneself, the Bible must be understood in the wider context of the creeds of the church. This is fine, as long as it doesn’t turn into an inflexible traditionalism that Scot points out, ends up usurping biblical authority.

3) Reading with tradition claims that it is crucial to neither ignore nor idolize tradition. This requires a motion of going back and coming forward at the same time.

This chapter closes with a confession. Scot’s desire to master the Bible and to put it into nice comfortable system backfired. He was attempting to control the blue parakeets, rather than learning to listen to them. His plea is that we join him in listening to the Bible and his hope is that it comes to life for us, as it has for him, in relevant and dynamic ways that can be lived out.