Some block-&-tackles I learned along the way—some in seminary, some long before and elsewhere.
One is that modern Christian READERS are being “robbed” by modern Christian WRITERS in this manner: a bajillion books flooding our shops and shelves are actually all made up of puny morsels stolen from genius (and dead) thinkers’ works which you will never even hear about.
Another is that while Scripture is the Word of God, the Word of God is NOT Scripture (it depends on what the definition of the word “is” is).
Here is one: Scripture must be interpreted. A corollary to this is “Scripture is not merely saying something, it is doing something while saying it.”
Since right now I am loading a Study Series which begins with the Gospel of Luke, let me take a minute to expand this last idea—that Scriptural text is meant to not only say something but do something to the reader as well. Ever notice that “the way” a text is written makes a difference? How the situationalism of a story puts you on edge, to read it with a mood? How redundant lines of textual poetry say the same thing backwards as they just did forwards, and then inside out, then on from A to Z to account for all the wiggle? Ever strike you that one Wisdom literature book is happiness-oriented, another disaster-oriented, another prudent, another Geronimo—and that the reader is thrown into all their contradictions on Wisdom, together? In these ways the Scripture is not just text but also effect, and both can get read.
Someone once said “read it literally” but I would rather suggest we “read it literarily.” Read it like that particular kind of literature would mean for you to read it. And a whole bigger world of understanding will open up. So, going into a study of the Gospel of Luke now, here is a helpful thing to know. A “Gospel”—of which there are 4, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—is a particular “genre” or style of Scripture, and this particular genre called “Gospel” is up to more than a reader might realize. Yet they will notice it, probably, and eventually, if there is any genuine interest.
The Gospel of Luke, for example, is 2 things: (1) a reliable account of Jesus and (2) a subtle and underlying theological agenda. So it is, that here—since I am now posting a whole study series which begins with Luke—I would like to share that, from beginning to end, the Gospel of Luke’s subtle and underlying theological agenda is to impress the reader with God’s “policies for growth” in His building up of a new kind of Peoplehood on the earth.
[I expound: Between Luke’s stories and sayings of Jesus, the careful reader notices that the Christ-Faith, first of all, breaks forth into a world that is already established and Roman. The reader gets saturated with discussions about “The Christ’s” ministerial qualities which the earlier prophets had already long foretold. The reader can trace the advancement of Jesus’ several years program in recognizable ministry “stages”—to include the developmental steps of his disciples’ leadership training. The reader feels the whole prescribed ethos of their program to be incessantly missional, grassroots, and revolutionary of the current culture. The reader notices the whole program’s “driving miracle” as stemming from a prayerful waiting-on-God, to which God responds by busting His Spirit powerfully onto the scene. And likewise the reader begins to realize a challenging motif that Luke actually continues on into his sequel (the book of Acts): that multi-culturalism and multi-nationalism represent God’s highly favored “growth policy” for making His People better than what they had been before. Indeed Luke’s large but subtle theological agenda is to impart these favored strategies of God—all while Luke is also writing out, more simply, a reliable account of Jesus. Do the other Gospels trace these? Sure, but each of their primary effect upon the reader is of a different sort.]
This jives with Luke’s own quip about his writeup’s purpose: Luke’s Gospel is to be “an ordered account” which tracks the beginnings and the untils and the accomplishments and the chronologies and all the doings… of both Jesus’ schematics as well as the disciples’… “so that you may know” and so that these things might have become “investigated’ (see the starts of Luke and Acts).
So it is that Scripture is to be interpreted. Without zero interpretation at all, some of what we read might be totally imposed upon by our own unknown prejudices, while much profound Treasure in that text—such as noticing God’s “people-building” zeal throughout Luke’s Gospel—could go totally untapped.