Hermeneutics And The Meditative Use Of Scripture: The Case For A Baptized Imagination -- By: Glen G. Scorgie

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 44:2 (Jun 2001)
Article: Hermeneutics And The Meditative Use Of Scripture: The Case For A Baptized Imagination
Author: Glen G. Scorgie


Hermeneutics And The Meditative Use Of Scripture:
The Case For A Baptized Imagination 1

Glen G. Scorgie*

[* Glen Scorgie is professor of Systematic Theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego, 6116 Arosa Street, San Diego, CA 92115–3902.]

“That night my imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized” (C. S. Lewis) 2

I. Introduction

Bible-centeredness is one of the defining and most celebrated features of the evangelical tradition. 3 To a significant degree evangelical identity revolves around the central place we give to the Scriptures. Historically we have been very much a people of the Book. We confess that the Bible is unique among pieces of literature, for it is God-breathed—divinely-inspired, and therefore infallible (unable to fail), inerrant (without error), and supremely authoritative (possessing the right to compel assent). We acknowledge its power, and so we preach the Word (2 Tim 4:12), counting on its penetrating force as the sword of the Spirit (Heb 4:12).

But one quickly discovers that to hold the Bible in such a prominent place is no guarantee that the way we treat it and use it will always be appropriate. In fact, all too often just the opposite is the case. We are embarrassed at the prevalence of “magical” approaches to Scripture that bear more resemblance than we would like to the superstitious oracular and divining practices of the world’s primal religions. We have squirmed when fellow-evangelicals have treated the Bible as a volume of encoded secrets about the future that require esoteric and even mathematical deciphering. 4

It has given us headaches to attend home Bible studies at which every random and arbitrary interpretation of a passage put forward by participants is affirmed and validated as a stroke of genius.

And so saner heads among us have taken seriously the Scripture’s own challenge to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Tim 2:15), as the older King James Version put it, or, as the New International Version now translates the phrase, to “correctly handle the Word of Truth.” We evangelicals have worked hard to develop responsible ways of interpreting the Bible. We do not want to be victims of dangerous subjectivity and misleading judgments. For responsible evangelical scholars this has meant attempting as best we ...

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