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The Blue Parakeet: Introduction (continued)

September 22, 2008

In chapter one McKnight establishes the idea that we “pick and choose” when it comes to reading and applying the teachings of scripture. We all do this, we just may not realize it or understand why we do it the way we do. I am becoming much more aware of how often I do this, and am interested in taking a more honest look at my own patterns of Bible reading and interpretation.

Chapter two asks us about how we respond to passages of scripture which are more challenging. McKnight believes we can learn a lot about ourselves (and our patterns of Bible reading) when we interact with these types of passages and take note of how we do it. McKnight focuses on “three ways” we read the Bible (methods we have been taught or picked up) and discusses the pros and cons of each:

  1. Reading to Retrieve: In our Bible reading we go back to the author’s day in an attempt to bring back those biblical ideas and practices for today (25-26). Some folks using this method try to retrieve everything, while others only that which can be “salvaged” “for our day and our culture” (27).

  2. Reading through Tradition: Tradition is a necessary component to consider, but we want to guard against traditionalism. I find McKnight’s comments on the downside of reading/interpreting the Bible as individuals to be helpful and on target.

  3. Reading with Tradition: This method invites us to return to the Bible and interact with tradition, but also “move forward” in how we make applications and allow the Bible “to renew and keep renewing” our expressions of the gospel (34). We honor and draw on tradition as a cloud of witnesses who strove to live out the message of God’s story in their day. However, this does not mean we always agree with tradition (more on that later).

When considering our own method of reading today, we are cautioned to not let our interpretations become set in stone for all time (and thus make the mistake of traditionalism) (35).

Chapter two introduces the reader to a great illustration for thinking about our interactions with challenging parts of the Bible, and McKnight’s discussion of the “ways” provides a helpful means to consider our own practice and preferences. The next three parts of the book concern “Story”, “Listening”, and “Discerning”, and it concludes with a discussion of one of the Bible’s more challenging topics in light of these elements.

Some questions:

  • Which of these “ways” of Bible reading is most natural for you and why?

  • How do you respond to Bible passages which are challenging to you (or your church community)? Do you interact with them/ignore them/use the Thomas Jefferson method on them :)/others?…

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