Theology for the Long Haul

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Hermeneutic of Practical Obedience

One can use many interpretive practices and strategies when approaching the texts of Sacred Scripture. There are literally dozens of commentaries readily available on the internet and hundreds more in print and in bible software programs. Each of these commentaries is informed by its own distinct worldview and theological commitments. Some of these are even written by the founders of broader Christian movements (e.g., Luther, Calvin, Wesley).

The image we have of studying the bible may be of a great stack of books close by. Frequently books are consulted, frequently notes are taken on a pad of paper or written in the margins of the bible. This is an in-depth process leading to the acquisition of much knowledge.

This was my model for understanding scriptural study until recently when I picked up a copy of Todd Hunter’s Giving Church Another Chance and began reading. Throughout his book, time and again, Todd returns to the idea of practical obedience to Jesus as a pattern for life. For Todd, if knowing the teachings of Jesus is important, then living them out is even more so. At one point he challenges the reader to consider spending as much time planning how to live out a scriptural passage after reading it as consulting resources to understand it.

I like Todd’s challenge because I see the truth in it. As the common saying goes: “the Christian life is not just about information, but also transformation.” Belief and action are required for a holistic practice of the faith. How can this insight renew out personal bible study? Can a hermeneutic of practical obedience (i.e., reading the bible with attention to acting on its truths in daily life), lead to greater discovery of the abundant life that God has for us? I think that it can. Perhaps this is a new way to invite God into our lives and to offer up our time and energy as worship to Him.

Posted by Jacob, who regularly blogs at Inter Christianos.

1 comment:

  1. Amen Jacob... I appreciate your challenge. God intended the Scriptures for our sanctification. If we are not living out the teachings of Scripture, than we are not letting God have His way in our lives... not matter how much we know or have studied. Reminds me of Jesus prayer in John 17:16-18

    "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world."

    The purpose of the Bible is to lead us toward greater sanctificaion.