Reading the Bible

June 2006


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Comment Magazine - Reading the Bible

01

Editorial: Awakenings

By Gideon Strauss and Russ Kuykendall

In this editorial, we reprise two awakenings: Gideon Strauss's lightning bolt engagement with the biblical narrative, and Russ Kuykendall's discovery of the neocalvinist tradition of thought.

12

Reading the Bible like a grown-up child

By Calvin Seerveld

It's not easy to read the Bible. It's easier to read it wrong or not to read it at all. To read the Bible the way it is written takes some coaching (Acts 8:26-31). But a lot of people don't want that. They want an easy fix, and after a while they give up on Bible reading. But it is an amazing book of life and forgiveness when you read it like a grown-up-turned-child, believing expectantly on your knees.

16

Reading the Bible in public

By Jim Skillen

Reading the Bible publicly . . . with a megaphone in a public square? Or, allowing the Bible's public character to express itself? Sometimes both, and always the latter.

19

Reading the Bible . . . and articulating a worldview

By Michael Goheen

The story of the Bible tells us the way the world really is—a normative claim, a public truth. But it needs to be understood as one single unfolding story; if reduced to a collection of moral bits, systematic-theological bits, devotional bits, historical-critical bits, narrative bits, and homiletical bits, it can easily be absorbed into the reigning story of culture instead of challenging it. Then, of course, the Christian's basic beliefs in the biblical story must form the blueprint through which s/he sees human existence and the cultural task. In other words, articulating a worldview is the natural answering of life's most foundational questions. Here's how.

25

Reading the Bible . . . and listening for the Spirit

By Vincent Bacote

How can discerning readers of the Bible know that they are properly interpreting Biblical texts? With so many interpretative approaches out there, it's important to be taught some of the common mistakes of private Scripture reading . . . and then to remember both the basic clarity of Scripture, and the Spirit's work in helping understand divine things.

28

Reading the Bible . . . and longing to know

By Esther Meek

The Bible is a doorway to a Person, an invitation waiting to be sent. When we read it obediently and expectantly, and when we climb into the words of God and long to know Him . . . He comes to us, in gracious and surprising self-disclosure.

33

Neocalvinism . . . Maybe: A peek into my neocalvinist toolbox

By James K.A. Smith

Augustinian neocalvinists? Anti-capitalist, counter-cultural neocalvinists? Neocalvinist monks? Anabaptist neocalvinists? Neocalvinist charismatic-Pentecostal Christians? Canadian and Calvin College professor James Smith sketches out his vision of big-tent neocalvinism.

41

Neocalvinism . . . No: Why I am not a neocalvinist

By Daniel Knauss

Neocalvinism is a tradition detached from the broader and longer, western intellectual tradition. It's detached from its confessional roots, and from a catholic understanding of church. Most of all, it's detached from ecclesial community. Is it truly a mere publishing project, with a view to variously showing signs of vitality or allowing evangelicals to recover a Christian mind? Neocalvinism . . . Dan Knauss replies, "Just say, 'No.'"

47

Neocalvinism . . . Yes: Do we have a choice?

By Harry Van Dyke

Hearkening back to neocalvinism's salad days in the first fifty years of 20th-century Dutch society, Dr. Harry Van Dyke offers up neocalvinism at its best. Van Dyke's is a vision of neocalvinism as an ecumenical project whereby Christians of various confessions may join together in associations and institutions, to confront and transform culture—in homes, markets, farms, the arts, labour, churches, states, and schools and universities.

50

Neocalvinism . . . Yes, but . . .

By Janel M. Curry

Formerly an anabaptist, in neocalvinism Janel Curry has found an intellectual framework that allows her to negotiate between the pitfalls of both Enlightenment modernism and postmodernism, and find a cohesive solution to the problems posed by both in her discipline. But . . . while positioning herself as a scholar operating from the neocalvinist tradition, Curry offers a warning and issues a challenge to 21st-century neocalvinists.

53

Neocalvinism . . . Abraham Kuyper? Maybe.

By Clifford Blake Anderson

In the thought tradition given impetus by the late 19th and early 20th century's preacher-politician of the Netherlands, Connecticut Congregationalist Clifford Blake Anderson finds a genuinely public and prophetic theology . . . with certain reservations. Chief among these is the question of how any tradition—including neocalvinism—may be prophetically self-critical.

58

Neocalvinism . . . for Christian renewal: a comprehensive, 'insider' response

By Al Wolters

Let me emphasize at the outset that I speak as a neocalvinist "insider," with all the strengths and weaknesses that such "insiderdom" implies... I have been an enthusiastic advocate of its distinctive strengths throughout my adult life

This Issue

In this issue of Comment, we offer two series: Reading the Bible and Neocalvinism… yes, no, maybe? In the first, we are concerned with reading the Bible in a particular way: with fresh eyes, with a view to its public implications, with sensitivity to the Spirit, reading the Bible "personally," and allowing it to shape and form a worldview. In the second series, on neocalvinism, we hear from two "yes’s" (one with a qualification), two "maybe’s" (one from inside the tradition and another from outside), and a spirited and antithetical "no." The second series culminates in Al Wolters’s "Neocalvinism… for Christian renewal: A comprehensive, 'insider' response," a reply to the print symposium "What is to be done… toward a neocalvinist agenda" (December 2005) and to this series.

We hope that you, too, find at least a spark—if not a lightning bolt—and some insight—if not a revelation, and your place in the grand narrative of redemption as it unfolds.

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