Monday, November 26, 2007
It's the Results that Matter
I'm going to posting a review of Scot McKnight's new book A Community Called Atonement soon as I finished it while I was in Haiti. However, I wanted to also post a quotation from Saint Augustine that Scot had as an epigraph to a chapter entitled "Atonement as Missional Praxis: Living the Story of the Word". Augustine writes:

Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all. Whoever finds a lesson there useful to the building of charity [love], even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived, nor is he lying in any way... However... if he is deceived in an interpretation which builds up charity... he is deceived in the same way as a man who leaves a road by mistake but passes through a field to the same place toward which the road itself leads.

It's an interesting way of approaching scripture - an instrumental approach - where the most important thing is not necessarily authorial intent or apprehending a completely accurate interpretation (though these are indeed still important), but that scripture actually produce in us the fruit of love for God and love for others. And that, conversely, if an understanding of scripture does not lead to love for God and others, Augustine says it is certain that one has interpreted scripture incorrectly. It seems then that love becomes the hermeneutical lens through which all the rest of scripture is understood. That doesn't seem like a bad principle to me.


posted by Mike Clawson at 3:58 PM | Permalink |


At 11/26/2007 04:23:00 PM, Anonymous A

This concept absolutely intrigues me! I am attending a Christian university, and am required to take Bible classes (3 units shy of a minor in Biblical Studies). One of the books I'm reading right now, entitled "Reading the Bible from the Margins," presents this idea in slightly different wording. De La Torre posits that there is a "hermaneutical privilege of the oppressed" in the world of Biblical interpretation. He goes as far to say that "objective interpretation" is actually a myth (read: weapon) used by the majority to suppress others, or at least justify their own position.

Anyway, these thoughts from Augustine sparked my mind in that vein - not proof-texting, per se, but interpreting Scripture using a kind of filter (for Augustine: love for the other).


At 11/26/2007 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

Why bother with the bible at all then? Why not simply decide to be a good kind person and love god (whatever god means).

But then, how can you define god without resorting to the bible....hmmm...


At 11/27/2007 12:26:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Nony Mouse, since I don't know who you are I really don't know how to interpret what you're trying to get at through your question - which is one good reason why I generally discourage anonymous comments - without context it's hard to interpret correctly. Sorry.


At 11/27/2007 01:20:00 PM, Anonymous Karl

Good stuff. I think Alan Jacobs explores this or similar ideas in his book A Theology of Reading: The Hermeneutics of Love.


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