A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
Editor’s Note: Today we continue our series of “bonus” summaries covering all thirty-six chapters of the monumental volume, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (D.A. Carson, ed.).
Chapter 29: To Whom Does the Text Belong? Communities of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Communities
by Richard Lints
(Summarized by Mark Coppenger)
Lints, vice-president for academic affairs and distinguished professor theology at Gordon-Conwell, begins by noting the “increasing cultural distrust of individualism and the accompanying embrace of communities,” but suggests that “in these communally sensitive times of ours,” we “want community rather than authority.” Furthermore, there is “plenty of evidence that we are not nearly as communal as we would like to believe about ourselves,” for we’d “rather be free agents at the end of the day.”
He ties communitarian enthusiasm to the work of Thomas Kuhn (with his talk of scientists’ working under socially-constructed paradigms) and to the displacement of melting-pot talk by special-interest activism fostered by social media. He then stakes out the middle ground between the extremes of individualism and communitarianism, saying that the gospel spells out both the virtues and vices of communities.
He warns against making too much of the “communal dimension of the Godhead,” for divine and human communities are different. And he pushes back against “radical pluralistic” interpretations whereby “the canon means primarily what diverse communities think it means,” a position he finds represented in Dale Martin’s Pedagogy of the Bible: An Analysis and Proposal (Westminster John Knox, 2008). He argues that both the Bible and the church properly exhibit. . .[...]
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The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures