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How Does Scripture Function?

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In our Theology Track at the National Youth Workers Conventions this fall we are addressing the topic, “How do Scripture and Theology Interact?”

“What is the point of reading the Bible?” What youth worker hasn’t heard that question? How that question gets answered depends on theology. Any answer we give suggests something about God, the church and discipleship. The Bible and theology are inexorably bound together, so this panel will engage broadly around the topic of their interaction. How do theological commitments impact how we interpret Scripture? How does culture shape our understanding of the Bible? What role do communities play in helping us read Scripture? What really is the point of reading the Bible? And, are we ever just reading the Bible? How do we help young people grapple with a Bible that is complex, ancient, enigmatic and yet normative and authoritative for our faith?

Blevins

One of our panelists is Dr. Dean Blevins.  Here is a guest blog post by Dr Blevins to help frame this topic.

I am looking forward participating in the Youth Theology panel discussions at the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego and Dallas. The panels, sponsored by Immerse Journal, are designed to engage youth ministers theologically, encouraging a deeper reflection over the role of theology in the practice of ministry.

I am thankful Mike King invited me to address this issue with a really stellar panel of youth ministry specialists who share deep theological convictions. The challenge reminds me just how deeply theology shapes our reading of scripture alongside how scripture informs our theology. This may be a “chicken and egg” issue since we never come to scripture without some theological assumptions (a theological horizon) which influences our understanding of scripture. To be sure, we ought to be disciplined enough to attempt to take scripture seriously on its own merits. However, I really do not believe we can ever approach scripture without a theological framework. The challenge may be more accepting our assumptions first and then recognize how they may or may not hinder our interpretations.

However, I really wonder if our theology remains so deeply rooted that often it shapes our understanding of the very role of scripture. In short, what do we assume happens when we read, teach, discuss, and engage scripture? How does the Bible “function” in our ministry from the standpoint of how it informs actual participation in the Christian life? What actually “happens” when we read scripture and what does the Bible “do” for us as we read it?

The question came home early in my ministry when I was engaged in a conversation with a really intelligent young adult finishing his doctoral program in American history. He was struggling with his faith journey and I was there to help him sort out his past with his vision for God’s salvation at work in and through his life. I asked if he read scripture and, if so, why? He frankly admitted he never read scripture anymore and saw no need. When pressed why, he merely replied “I already learned all the answers so why bother?” The response took me off guard. Much like passing a driver’s license exam, my friend was raised to see scripture as a deposit of data, a manual, with requisite data to be memorized, tested, and passed. He did admit that he might consult scripture when he “forgot” the guidelines for a particular way of living, much like checking for a long forgotten traffic law. The very source of life for some Christians had become a hurdle to overcome and nothing more. It was almost “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt” Bible study. Why?  READ THE REST OF THE POST HERE.

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