Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.
Discussion: The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight
From Chapter 2, “The Birds and I”
Last week we looked at the “reading to retrieve” way of reading the Bible. This week we’ll look at “reading through tradition.” McKnight discusses the difference between reading the Bible according to tradition (Nicene Creed, the Apostle’s Creed, and justification by faith from the Reformation) and reading from traditionalism. What is the difference between the two?
Traditionalism is the inflexible, don’t-ask-questions, do-it-the-way-it-has-always-been-done approach to Bible reading. It reads the Bible through tradition. What happens then? Those who read the Bible through tradition always see the traditional way of reading the Bible. This approach is nearly incapable of renewal and adaptation.
McKnight offers six steps that lead to traditionalism:
Step 1: We read the Bible.
Step 2: We confront a current issue and we make a decision about an issue – like baptizing infants or adults – or we frame ‘what we believe’ into a confession, a creed, or a doctrinal statement.
Step 3: We fossilize our decision and it becomes a tradition. (Somewhere around here we become absolutely convinced our tradition is a perfect interpretation of the Bible.)
Step 4: We are bound to our tradition forever. (It is now traditionalism.)
Step 5: We are bound to read the Bible through our tradition. (Somewhere around here we become convinced that God’s Spirit led us to our tradition and that it is nothing less than accurate, God-prompted, don’t-question-it unfolding in history of what God’s Word says.)
Step 6: Those who question our tradition are suspect, or worse yet, kicked out of the church. (Somewhere around here we become ineffective in our world and become increasingly cantankerous about how the youth are wandering away from the faith.)
McKnight’s point in this section is that when reading the Bible, it is valid to interpret the Bible alongside the traditions that set Christianity in place. Equally important is to not get caught up in reading the Bible through tradition so that we may engage people during this time in which we live.
What are your experiences in dealing with churches or people who interpret the Bible through tradition? Have you experienced any conversation about “this is what we believe because it’s always what we’ve believed?” Have you ever experienced any repurcussions because you dared to think beyond tradition?
In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.
Proverbs 11: 12 – 13
A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?
Photo credit: Kathi – Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA