Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Robert Jenson on Canon and Creed, Scripture and Theology

I'm enthusiastic about this most recent book by Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson. Canon and Creed (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010) is the latest release in the WJK series Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church. An important and accessible contribution to the growing body of literature advocating a theological reading of Scripture that is enriched rather than supplanted by historical-critical methodologies, Jenson's book clearly and compellingly sets forth a case I've tried to argue now and then in my own ecclesial context. Here's a snippet from the book's introduction (more extensive preview selections are available on the WJK page for Canon and Creed):

It may even be that it is precisely because the mutuality of canon and creed has slipped from our grasp that so many other aspects of the church's life do the same. For canon and creed appeared in the church's history as--or so the church has believed--Spirit-given reminders of what sort of community the church must be if it is indeed to be church; thus alienation from the mutual import of canon and creed may be occasioned by, and in turn occasion, alienation from the church's reason for existence. If we cannot say what it means for the affairs of the church that we have these particular Scriptures, or what convictions center and delimit the life of the church, or how our Scripture and our convictions work together, how do we make an identifiable community? . . .

The structure of a community's self-identity through time depends on what sort of community it is, and so then does the nature of possible threats to that identity. What sort of community is the church? Perhaps we may find ecumenical agreement in a truly minimal proposition: the church is the community of a message, that the God of Israel has raised his servant Jesus from the dead. Anyone who cannot agree even to so much belongs to a different religious community than do the author and initially intended readers of this book--though of course all are welcome to eavesdrop and even intrude on the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I think Jenson's book will help to display more concretely what "theological exegesis" is and is not. It is not a free-wheeling Christian kabbalism, but rather reflection on the Christian Scriptures guided by the shorthand summary of the historic Christian community that received the canonical books as authentic witnesses to the gospel story of Israel's Messiah.