In his fine essay in the March 2010 number of Christianity Today, Darren C. Marks (‘The Mind Under Grace. Why theology is an essential nutrient for spiritual growth’) articulates an assumption that both modernist and post-modernist ‘true believers’ might well find startling: ‘Scripture interrogates the community’.
Marks pens his essay a defense of ‘dry’ theology against that contemporary hubris that insists we honor Relevance above all other gods.
Living with the penetrating, unsettling interrogatives of Scripture strikes me as an almost sufficient abbreviation of Christian faith and practice. If the elevation of the subject is our generation’s besetting sin, then the ‘satanic’ (as in ‘questioning’, ‘probing’, ‘skeptical’, even ‘accusing’) voice of Scripture may be the salvation we most desperately require.
Not that portion of Scripture that we find reducible to articulation in the too often caricatured bumper sticker or painted artfully into Tim Tebo’s eye black, but that comprehensive encounter with Scripture that requires us to submit to Leviticus’ apparent tedium, Samuel’s heroics, the gospels’ unsophisticated presentation of history’s most sophisticated figure, and Paul’s agonizing against Israel’s experience in Romans 9-11.
In short, the whole body of Scripture must interrogate us.
We might imagine that inspiration and anecdote can inspire us sufficiently to escape that sucking swamp that has us, up to the thighs, in its grasp.
That would be a tragic underestimation of our condition.
Only by embracing Scriptures comprehensive, unending, humiliating, empowering interrogation can we have any hope of escaping ourselves, of finding salvation from ourselves, of breaking free from the hubris that enslaves us while we piously quote our favorite parts.