Interpretation: Right Reception – an Excerpt from Christian Dogmatics

The following is an excerpt from Kevin Vanhoozer’s chapter “Holy Scripture” in Christian Dogmatics, edited by Michael Allen and Scott Swain.

——–

The interpretation of the Bible—the way readers receive and act in response to it—is also part of the domain of God’s Word. To be sure, it is possible to read the Bible “like any other book,” yet Scripture, unlike every other book, is a set-apart (i.e., holy) vehicle of triune discourse and therefore requires special treatment: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Cover ArtWe cannot describe what it is to read Scripture rightly as if human agents were able to understand triune discourse simply through the employment of their natural abilities. Readers are sinners who “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18).

Readers too are, therefore, part of the economy of triune discourse (what God says to someone). The Creator of heaven and earth does not speak futilely into the air but effectively into human hearts and minds. The reader’s role in the economy is not to author Scripture or to confer authority on it but rather to receive and revere it as the Word of Christ, giving thanks for it with others in the church and letting it dwell in the core of their being in order gradually to conform them to Christ, its subject matter.

The goal of interpretation is to create right-minded and right-hearted readers who will rejoice in the truth, not least by willingly participating in it. The reader’s place in the economy of communication is to perform or live out the reality held out by the biblical text: fellowship with God or, in a word, communion.

©2016 by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

——–

For more information on Christian Dogmatics, click here.

New Release: Christian Dogmatics

This one-volume introduction to systematic theology draws deeply on the catholic and Reformed heritage to present the major doctrines of the Christian faith, displaying the power of theological retrieval for the church’s renewal. Leading Reformed theologians offer the “state of the question” on standard theological topics and engage in both exegetical and historical retrieval for the sake of theological analysis.

Christian Dogmatics represents the exciting new theological trajectory of Reformed catholicity and will serve professors and students in systematic theology or Christian doctrine courses well. It will also be of interest to pastors and church leaders.

——–

Cover ArtContents
Introduction  Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain
1. Knowledge of God  Michael Allen
2. Holy Scripture  Kevin J. Vanhoozer
3. Divine Attributes  Michael Allen
4. Divine Trinity  Scott R. Swain
5. Covenant of Redemption  Scott R. Swain
6. Creation out of Nothing  John Webster
7. Providence  John Webster
8. Anthropology  Kelly M. Kapic
9. Sin  Oliver D. Crisp
10. Incarnation  Daniel J. Treier
11. The Work of Christ Accomplished  Donald Macleod
12. The Work of Christ Applied  Richard Gaffin
13. The Law of God and Christian Ethics  Paul T. Nimmo
14. The Church  Michael Horton
15. Sacraments  Todd Billings
16. Kingdom of God  Michael Horton
Indexes

——–

“This book is a significant contribution to Christian doctrinal theology….I expect it to have a wide usefulness in the years ahead.”—George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary

“An important contribution to the ongoing renewal of Reformed dogmatics in the ecumenical context of our time.”—Gerald Bray, Beeson Divinity School

“A scholarly yet readable synthesis that both anchors and vivifies the intelligence of the Christian faith.”—Henri A. G. Blocher, Faculté Libre de Théologie Evangélique

“A stellar lineup of established and emerging Reformed theologians.”—Suzanne McDonald, Western Theological Seminary

“Every chapter repays careful reading and reflection.”—Stephen R. Holmes, University of St. Andrews

“In providing a set of resources for the wider church, the volume is characterized by lucid, patient, and temperate exposition of key themes.”—David Fergusson, University of Edinburgh

“This is a gift to the entire church: the solidity, maturity, resourcefulness, and sagacity of these chapters provide theologians from all confessions with a statement of Christian doctrine from an identifiably Protestant perspective.”—Fred Sanders, Biola University

“An outstanding collection on Reformed dogmatics from some of the sharpest minds in the contemporary business.”—Ivor J. Davidson, University of St. Andrews

“No one will fail to be challenged, edified, and spurred on to further study of Scripture with the help of our theological forebears.”—David VanDrunen, Westminster Seminary California

——–

Michael Allen (PhD, Wheaton College) is associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Scott R. Swain (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of systematic theology and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Allen and Swain coauthored Reformed Catholicity.

For more information on Christian Dogmatics, click here.