Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lenses

I'm beginning to see that we read the bible with many types of lenses. I say this because Piper just can't see eye to eye on Wright's way of reading the bible. Both of them have valid points, its just that I've out grown the reformed lens of reading and understanding the Bible.

I also think that as we journey in our lives our reading of the bible also takes on a journey together with us. It make me wonder, what if I had never grown tired of reading using reformed lenses, would I still come to the same conclusions now in the way I read the bible? There is a big chance I would just stay 'reformed'.

With this comes other questions again. What made me tired of reading the bible in Piper's dimension? Was it the curiosity element? I mean there are some people who like to learn new stuff and posture their minds in that direction. But then I'm not saying that we are swept away easily by various trends. In a big way, we reason through and wrestle this new wave. Thinking, "I wonder how will this work out?"

But with this new lens in motion, brooding it's growth in me, it's pretty difficult to present this new way of reading the bible to people. My recent attempts in lending N. T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" has been met by some disapproval, but thankfully not the heresy kind of vibe. Is reading the bible taking Wright's lens in taking the Jewish context seriously new? Maybe, to some degree.

But right now people are still happy, reading Piper (to some degree), Rich Warren (at an elevated level) and people who write about their heaven infused visitation (these books sell like hot cakes!).



7 comments:

theholywild said...

like wright - i still consider myself protestant and reformed. this doesnt always mean calvinist as the reformation was not isolated in geneva. the reformation in brittain took on the anglican flavor and thats where wright fits in the picture. the reformation in germany followed after luther. etc.

these strains tend to fracture from each other but realistically they all represent a unified dissociation from roman catholicism and the various orthodoxies of the schism. that and the solas are the heart of the protestant reformation.

Tremonti said...

theholywild,

thanks for the clarifications there. I still think myself as protestant and reformed as well. I have should clarified when i mention 'im tired with the reformed lens'.

I heard wright say something like this once, about not being able to say everything in a conversation or writing comprehensively. haha.

Mason said...

I think the ‘Reformedness’ of Wright is very different from that of Piper. Like Wright I would identify myself broadly with the Reformed tradition, especially Anglican Reformed end of things.

However Piper’s approach has a lot more to do with sort of a Confessional Reformed/Calvinism that actively uses their particular tradition as the lens through which to view the Scriptures and through which to judge all theological positions, fitting the Scriptures into a system instead of critiquing our system in light of Scripture.
I think that lens misses a lot of the bigger story and has a very individualistic slant, and so Piper tends to argue past what Wright is really saying because he is not starting where Wright is and gets stuck on making things fit with the Reformed tradition and with terms and shibboleths.

That is part of my frustration with the debate, and the radical neo-reformed movement. There seems to be an unwillingness to engage in real conversation or evaluate their own presuppositions. I fear that until that happens they will keep arguing against mere parodies of what others are really saying.

Tremonti said...

Mason,

I like what you said here:

"There seems to be an unwillingness to engage in real conversation or evaluate their own presuppositions. I fear that until that happens they will keep arguing against mere parodies of what others are really saying."

This is actually the irony that i'm facing in my context at the moment. People are not exposed to writings like that of N. T. Wright, and if there is any mention of his name it would be through a 'warning' kind of vibe.

I don't see too much neo-reformed circles here to be honest. Many people here fall on the "purpose driven-charismatic-joel osteen" kind of lens reading the bible. I want to be clear that i am talking about people around the context of where I practice my christian faith. So with this comes the difficulty of using Wright's lens to read and teach the bible.

But for the informed and people who read the would lean on Piper's reformed perspective. Sometimes i feel it is an uphill 'battle' to present yet another dimension of reading the bible.

The irony is, in the west where information is rampant and you could easily get books on stuff like Wright, people still don't see the need to engage in real conversation. On the part here, where i am, information and books are limited, people are not into the conversation because the don't know it exists. Hahaha. But generally it just the part of malaysia that i'm at.

Kurt said...

Jon... I have often wondered about the issue of lens myself. Am i just finding some 'edgy' ways about reading the bible and philosophy? Also, once someone is committed to a particular way of viewing the world and the scriptures, it is difficult to have productive dialogue. I feel like with my reformed friends, that if we cant find consensus on the 'big picture,' then the nitty gritty details become even more difficult. Well, i suppose that in spite of the frustration we must continue to have open ended dialogue with others who read the bible through a modern/neo-reformed lens, so that we can be continually reminded that we are sisters and brothers in Christ...

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. N.T. Wright, some 8 years ago really rocked my theological world when I read, "The Challenge of Jesus." Nothing less than a paradigm shift for me. And then Scot McKnight came along on "Jesus Creed," and helped me hold on to this change, and see it in perspective. But as is the nature of life, all is ongoing, and the need to reform continues.

Tremonti said...

Kurt,
"once someone is committed to a particular way of viewing the world and the scriptures, it is difficult to have productive dialogue."

Spot in buddy! It seems like when we are talking about A, people bring up B instead and dismiss A because they are committed to their fixed view of scripture. I always believe that we have to have some "flexibility" as we discover new historical facts that sheds light on the bible. I want to keep 'evolving' but at some points still faithful to what i have discovered. I think the best picture of that balance is Scot Mcknight!

Ted,
"as is the nature of life, all is ongoing, and the need to reform continues."

I will continue to remind myself of this!

Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations