Saturday, October 17, 2009
Kevin Vanhoozer's 10 theses on Theological Interpretation
I am fortunate enough to have a copy of Kevin Vanhoozer's paper on "Systematic Theology: The State of the Evangelical (Dis)union" delivered at Gordon-Conwell. It includes these 10 theses on theological interpretation:
1. The nature and function of the Bible are insufficiently grasped unless and until we see the Bible as an element in the economy of triune discourse.
2. An appreciation of the theological nature of the Bible entails a rejection of a methodological atheism that treats the texts as having a “natural history” only.
3. The message of the Bible is “finally” about the loving power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), the definitive or final gospel Word of God that comes to brightest light in the word’s final form.
4. Because God acts in space-time (of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church), theological interpretation requires thick descriptions that plumb the height and depth of history, not only its length.
5. Theological interpreters view the historical events recounted in Scripture as ingredients in a unified story ordered by an economy of triune providence.
6. The Old Testament testifies to the same drama of redemption as the New, hence the church rightly reads both Testaments together, two parts of a single authoritative script.
7. The Spirit who speaks with magisterial authority in the Scripture speaks with ministerial authority in church tradition.
8. In an era marked by the conflict of interpretations, there is good reason provisionally to acknowledge the superiority of catholic interpretation.
9. The end of biblical interpretation is not simply communication - the sharing of information - but communion, a sharing in the light, life, and love of God.
10. The church is that community where good habits of theological interpretation are best formed and where the fruit of these habits are best exhibited.
I really liked this quote from Vanhoozer towards the end of the paper:
"Seminary faculties need the courage to be evangelically Protestant for the sake of forming theological interpreters of Scripture able to preach and minister the word. The preacher is a “man on a wire,” whose sermons must walk the tightrope between Scripture and the contemporary situation. I believe that we should preparing our best students for this gospel ministry. The pastor-theologian, I submit, should be evangelicalism’s default public intellectual, with preaching the preferred public mode of theological interpretation of Scripture."