Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Towards A Church Beyond Belief
by Peter Rollins

Indirectly approaching the Word

"As most of us know, the Bible is often approached as a text that lays bare the mind of God, as that which supposes that by reading the book faithfully we can uncover the intentions, ideas, and desires of the Creator. In contrast to this, I am charting the idea that we ought to approach the text as actually manifesting the felt concealment of God. Here the central Word of the text is never directly grasped as a source of knowledge, but rather is encountered as a life-transforming event.

The point then is not to engage in a hermeneutical approach that would seek to somehow expose the mind of God, but rather to embrace a radical hermeneutics (a reading that sets the text free from the idea of a single correct meaning) that seeks to ultimately move beyond the desire to reduce the text to descriptive statements, inviting instead an ongoing transformative dialogue with the text. This way of reading the Bible asks much more of each individual reader, and offers the professional Bible critic much less authority.

For the idea of the Word of God as a description of the central Event that dwells within the words and yet is not of them (just as Jesus was in the world but not of it) helps us to understand that however interesting the work of the bible scholars, the theologians, the fundamentalists, or the intellectual skeptics may be, the true depth of the text is not to be discovered by following their exacting methods.

What happens when the depth of the text is thought to be swallowed up in a rational approach like this is an externalization and objectification of faith. Here the words are analyzed, contextualized, and grasped by those who are not necessarily taken up by the depth of the event housed within them."

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