My friend, Myk Habets linked to a quote provided by Chris Spinks over at the Wipf and Stock editors’ Running Heads blog. The quote comes from Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson, and he is referring to a distinction he sees accruing between what he calls ‘guild exegetes’ and the ‘churches’ theologians’. What he is noticing highly resonates with me, maybe it will for you too; he writes:
No reading of Scripture as Scripture in fact proceeds without theological presumptions. Since many guild exegetes pay no attention to this point, the theology that goes into their exegetical mill is subliminal and almost always childish; and so what comes out is the same. And of course, those scholars who have ceased to read Scripture as Scripture are then simply engaged in a possibly interesting antiquarian enterprise, rather like excavating nineteenth-century pots in Manhattan. [quote and biblio info can be found here, from the original post by Chris]
This is important. If you are going to read scripture as a Christian, then read scripture as Christian. I am afraid that Christians—the ones who actually read scripture—confuse the work that New Testament historians do with a theological reading of scripture. This is my own experience, growing up as an Evangelical; we inherited the rationalist ways of reading scripture that are naive to the fact that in fact scripture is the place that God, without apology, has decided to encounter us, in Christ, as Sovereign Lord. This reminds me of something that Martin Luther pressed; the distinction between the ministerial and magesterial approach to scripture. Do we sit under it, or over it. Jenson would be asserting that the guild exegetes sit over it, and that the churches’ theologians sit under it (or they should) by way of attitude, posture, and thus methodology.