Scot McKnight’s wife Kris refers to his latest book, The Blue Parakeet, as “one of his readable ones.” The book is, in fact, one of his most readable, which is most fortunate given the importance of the subject matter. Although Scot McKnight is something of an avid birder, the book’s title is really only a metaphor, not a literal description of the subject at hand. For that, the books subtitle, “Rethinking How You Read the Bible” sums it up. And if you notice that the image of the book cover glows just a little, it’s no accident — the book deserves a glowing review.
After reading Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, I started into Ed Cyzewski’s Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. Both books speak of an approach to scripture that attempts to bridge the gap between the culture in which the culture in which each book of the Bible was written and that of today into which it still speaks. As I reflected today on the nature of scripture an how it interacts with itself, I remembered the view of one Rabbi. The Hebrew Bible (what we refer to as the Old Testament) is divided into three parts — the Law (Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Jewish view is basically that the prophets and writings act as commentary on the Law (the Pentateuch), explaining how to understand it.
I recently finished Scot McKnight’s latest release, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. I have a habit of noticing ideas and examples that may be tangental to the author’s point but which I still make a point of applying in a slightly different context — as I did yesterday. And here comes another one, on authority.
Maybe another analogy will point us in the right direction. My relationship to the president and provost and dean of my university, North Park University, might be called a relationship of authority. David Parkyn, our president, Joseph Jones, our provost, and Charles Peterson, our dean, are in one sense authority figures. They have more authority than I do–and they should have. Frankly, knowing the kind of life an administrator is called to live, I am quite happy to cede that authority to them. Actually, I’m not ceding anything to them. They are given authority by the board of trustees, and my responsibility is to acknowledge their authority. However you look at it, they have a kind of authority I don’t.
Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this post, which ended up being about as long as the next bit that contained the important stuff I wanted to say, so I split it up. Feel free to start yesterday, then continue on below, which is about the whole mess of misunderstanding over networks that are not called Emergent.
We return to the assertion that nobody’s mad at anyone, and add a caveat for the possible exception of those who have been grossly misrepresented in the fray. The essential take-away here is that the forming of a new network is not to set up an alternative one, but to found something for people with a specific focus. Undoubtedly, people both within Emergent Village and outside of it, within or outside the missional conversation, and within and outside of the emerging church. This should not be a surprise, and should be considered a form of progress. Not in the sense of “better than” another network or anything of that sort, but better in the sense that it represents a form of self-organization that is necessary for the inclusion of more conservative Christianity in the thick of what we’ve all been on about for a number of years already.
Perhaps I’ve said my share already as I’ve seen the comments that others have been making about the shift — for some — away from using emerging/emergent terminology. Having had a couple of my posts picked up and linked around, I thought I’d be done, but it turns out I’m not — even if it turns out I’m saying more than my fair share. I’ve been pondering the bigger picture of it though, and late last week something clicked as I began to see the whole matter from a different angle, and I’ve decided there’s an alternate interpretation to be applied. This post, I think, is my most important observation of the discussion, and one which I hope time will prove to be accurate. And as I’ve said before, language is important to me, even if others tire of the talk of words. Eventually I do as well though, so hopefully this week will wrap up all that I feel I need to say about this battle of words. And anyway, I’ll point out that it’s not about words anyway, nor is it about people de-friend-ing one another.
It’s gone so far now that we’re blogging about how we’re tired of talking about the topic we’re blogging about. Again. Oh, don’t worry — I’m no better. So here we go again, but this time it’s Scot McKnight posting on the latest bruhaha with some new info, or new perspective on old info. I bring this up not because we need to say it once again that there’s discussion about the continued use of the term “Emergent,” or for that matter, “emerging.”
What I found interesting about Scot’s piece was the history he outlined for the word “Fundamentalism” and the word “Evangelical.” Both words have undergone a change in meaning culminating in its abandonment by some who no longer identified with the revised meaning of the term. In this fashion, it makes perfect sense that the emerging church would undergo the same shift, and that missional will follow. Already in the missional conversation there are some moving away from the term as no longer helpful — despite a 50+-participant synchroblog on the meaning of missional, the word remains a bit slippery.
Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible will be out soon, and reviews are beginning to appear online. I haven’t seen a copy, but the reviews are all good and it promises to be a good resource. Obviously the way in which one approaches the Bible will colour what we exegete from it, but the exegesis can be effected by how we understand that the Bible views itself.
The subject has come up here before, mostly in the context of how the Old and New Testaments relate to one another. Zondervan will soon be publishing Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology), and as part of the prelude to the book’s release they have developed an online quiz on the subject. You can see my results and take the quiz below. I took it twice and didn’t get quite the same answer…
“In recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel’s proper name,” said a June letter from the Vatican. “As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: Adonai, which means ‘Lord.'” In August, U.S. bishops were directed to remove Yahweh from songs and prayers.