Wednesday, January 18, 2006

History and Theology

Lawson Stone who is in Israel right now has a good post on the interplay between history and theology, here is a paragraph from it:

"For me, the connection between history and faith mirrors the integration of life and faith. I never made a very good dualist, separating the concrete world of time, space, politics, economics, appetites, ambitions, hopes,and dreams, from "the faith." So history and faith are possibly just facets of one reality. In an era when more and more theologians, even evangelical biblical theologians, are claiming that "theological" interpretation should break away from reading the Bible in its historical setting, this becomes a vital issue. I wish I had a definitive way of stating and resolving these hard questions. An awful lot of awfully easy answers are out there, often masquerading as the latest in epistemological and philosophical insight. But even though I can't give a quick-and-dirty, sound-bite friendly answer, I believe more than ever that to read the Bible detached from the human, flesh-and-blood, incarnational realities that gave it birth, opens up not a door of hope, but of illusion, for biblical theology. Historical work is hard work. I don't blame theologians for their loss of nerve. Many times I've wanted to give it up myself. But again and again, I remember that St. John did not say "the word became text" or "the word became story" but "the word became flesh and dwelt among us" which means...God deigned to enter history, to become history, and so if we are to be able to proclaim God's historically incarnated word across cultures, we must first listen to this word across cultures. Indeed, historical study is the first step in genuine cross-cultural communication of the biblical message."

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