Theologies of Scripture | Thesis Chapter 2
I'm posting chapters of my 2009 masters thesis on digital media ecology and scripture. See more here. What did I learn in seminary? One thing was this: theology isn't as important as it purports to be. Oh, and that it it is significantly more important than I thought. Love those paradoxes.
Let's try it like this. I had previously seen theology as a summary of doctrines that were clear in scripture—Cliff Notes of the bible that made it easier to preach and zing high-minded one-liners across the table at Chilis ("it's all for His glory, you know"). Ignore the doctrinal points and you were denying scripture. Exceptions included a few controversial issues that the other side was painfully and obviously wrong about. But in a lot of ways, doctrinal formulations were as brick-solid as Scripture itself (even moreso, because they left out those pesky huh? verses).
Leaving seminary, my view is pretty different. And the title of this chapter gives it away. Theologies, plural. Here's what I mean. God doesn't change, but the questions we ask do. Dramatically. And our theologies are shaped by what we're trying to know. What questions we're trying to answer. God remains. We're a tad more ephemeral. In the broadest sense, I realized I was okay with theology changing over time. In the past this sentence would have freaked me out. God doesn't change over time! We don't make God in our image! But that was when I thought theology was the same thing as Jesus, the breathing image of the invisible God. It's not.
This gets even crankier when we start to look at the doctrine of scripture. Leaning heavily on a recent collection of essays edited by Justin Holcomb, I tried to trace this. (this book was a life-saver I found later in the game and helped me re-do this chapter).
Part of this is the thesis requirement to show literature review and backround, which I do over two chapters. This is a broad (and full of holes) survey of the history of Christian thought on the doctrine of scripture. And then it reviews some current evangelical writing in the area. Enjoy. :)
- Chapter 2 Theologies of Scripture p18-38 (pdf, 1.4mb)