Sunday, December 31, 2017

Nonpartisan Evangelical Scholarship Part 2: John Goldingay

The single most helpful book I have read on approaching the Bible honestly as a Christian is John Goldingay's Models for Scripture (Eerdmans / Paternoster, 1994). Although it left a lasting impression and I eventually acquired--and then lost and found--my own copy, I have seldom referred to it since I first read it in 2001 or 2002. At the time, however, Goldingay was a good Samaritan who stopped to help a broken-down stranger on a lonely road.

I don't have my copy of Models for Scripture with me to review, reassess, and excerpt. But the gist of Goldingay's nonpartisan approach to the Bible is incapsulated in this reflection on his students: 

If there are no aspects of scripture that they do not like and do not have to wrestle with, then they are kidding themselves. It means that they have bracketed them out or reinterpreted them. That is what as evangelicals we have to do. We know we have to accept all of scripture, so we make it mean something else so we can accept it. As a Bible teacher one of my basic concerns has become simply to get people to read the Bible with open eyes. Some people learn to, others do not. I want people to read the Bible, to be open to finding there things that they had not realized were there, to be enthralled and dazzled and appalled and infuriated and puzzled and worried and stimulated and kept awake at night by these extraordinary words from God, to let their mind and heart and imagination and will be provoked and astonished by them. - John Goldingay, To the Usual Suspects: One Word Questions (Paternoster, 1998), 153-4.
Long-time readers of this blog may recall encountering the same quote back in 2008. My students may recognize the quote from class (where I usually add that I'm not anxious for them to be appalled or infuriated by the Bible). Other references to Goldingay on this blog are collected here.

This is part 2 in a 4-part series:
Part 1: F.F. Bruce 
Part 2: John Goldingay 
Part 3: N.T. Wright
Part 4: Donald J. Verseput 

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