Monday, June 05, 2006

The Drama of Doctrine

Today, I read this great interview with Kevin Vanhoozer, a prof at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and the author of The Drama of Doctrine, which I now would like to read. (Though the cover might just be the most boring book cover I've seen in a very long time!)

Here's a link to a PDF version of the article and a few quotes that caught my attention. . .

The imagination is our means of perceiving a unified drama in the diversity of the Scriptures. What holds the various books of the Old and New Testament together is their testimony to the speech and action of the triune God and to the drama of redemption. The imagination allows us to grasp as a meaningful whole what those without imagination see only as unrelated parts. . . . But we can go further still. The imagination also enables us to see our lives as part of that same meaningful whole. Christians don’t need more information about the Bible, trivial or otherwise. What the church needs today is the ability to indwell or inhabit the text, the ability to make the Bible serve as the framework through which we interpret God, the world, and ourselves.
(This is exactly what I mean when I often say that we need to "place ourselves in the text, see ourselves in the story.")

I think a picture of doctrine as theoretical information has held evangelicals captive for too long. We believe the right things and sign on the dotted line of our confessional statements, but too many of us are unable to relate our offical theology to everyday life. There is a tremendous disconnect. We know how to profess, but not to practice the cross.
(We believe the gospel, even proclaim it, but don't know how to live it.)
The church is a company of players who have become in the words of the apostle Paul, a "spectacle to the world" (I Cor. 4:9). Christians are "costumed interpreters," clothed with the righteousness of Christ and charged with being the “theater of the gospel.” To be precise, the church is to perform the in the power of the Spirit. The most important form that our biblical interpretation takes is not the commentary but the community: the church is to show the world what the gospel means through the way it shapes its life together. When the church performs the gospel, it becomes an enacted parable that exhibits the kingdom of God before a watching world. For example, the church performs the atonement by exercis- ing its ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). The church does not bring reconciliation about—only the cross can do that—but witnesses in word and deed to the reconciliation already achieved in Christ. The church participates in the cross, then, when it becomes a theater of reconciliation. Or, to put it somewhat differently, the church demonstrates her understanding of—performs—the doctrine of atonement by living as though the “dividing walls” (Eph 2:14) of racial and ethnic hostility really were broken down.
(I like that term "theater of the Gospel" to describe the church. This quote is all about "living the Gospel," isn't it? We perform the atonement by practicing reconciliation! That's a great concrete example of how we can apply the gospel to our everyday lives.)

Read the article and share your thoughts.

(HT: my father-in-law who gave me the article)


Steve said...

Gordon said...

Brillant book from the summary.

I think Christians' facination with movies might also reveal the weight of this book.

1) Movies are about living stories. God has called our lives to be LIVED in accordance with what we believe. We become very bored when we exist merely on doctrine; hence, "what the church needs today is the ability to indwell or inhabit the text."

2) Movies in a sense, are - ideals, principles, imagination, values and emotions that comes from words to LIFE. We forget Jesus came, as John 1, "...the WORD became FLESH and BLOOD." God has called us to take kindness, patiences, faith, love, courage, nobility...and LIVE it. But live it by Christ in us, and us in Him. His is OUR LIFE.

A preacher said, "People don't care what you know, they want to know you LOVE them." My sixteen-fold interpretation of (insert your favorite theological academia brain stimuli) won't touch the HEART of a broken down mother. Our LORD WON hearts.

This book sounds like a must read to be added to my library. Leroy P's story ...and what a story is one because he LIVED the Gospel.
Thanks for the encouragement Tim!!!

Suzette Lyons said...

Hey Gordon I think I know that pastor. Or maybe he just said something very close to what Pastor Ken always says which is: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

I think I will skip the book. I actually liked Pastor Tim's summary at the end of each quote much better. It bugs me when authors go round and round when they could just say it plan and simple.

Back to Pastor Ken. This whole line of thinking reminds me of his sermon and the parable of the chain saw. We talked about it in our growth group. I was a little fuzzy on the flipping the switch part. I mean fuzzy on exactly what that entails in the life of a Chirstian. How exactly do I do that. Or maybe I don't. Christ does all the work. Any way we had a lot of ideas, but not a solid "this is how you do it". This relates (I think) because when your plugged in and the switch is flipped then you are "living the gospel". So I will continue pondering the how of the whole switch flipping thing.

Can I get cliff notes on the book?