How to Read the Bible in the Real World

We had an excellent time last week with Dr Craig Carter teaching at London Seminary, a friend we have made through our partnership with the Greystone Theological Institute. He lectured the seminary students and they were joined by twenty pastors for a Pastors’ Academy study day on the Thursday.

Dr Carter explored the relationship between the literal and the spiritual sense of Scripture and challenged us to grasp the fact that the way we read the Bible is affected by our understanding of what it is and indeed of what reality itself is. If we come with anti-supernatural assumptions about the way the world works, we will read the Bible one way, whereas if we come with the Bible’s own assumptions about the action of God in the world we will read it another. As a good science, theology must seek knowledge in accord with the nature of the object known: we must let God be God in how we read. In other words, metaphysics shapes hermeneutics. We need to be more metaphysically alert than we are, to be wary of biblical interpretation that has grown in the soil of hostile metaphyics (even if its proponents no longer know that), and to embrace the biblical metaphysic reflected in the pro-Nicene theology of the later church fathers and the best theology since. It was great to hear all this taught with such focus and seriousness. You can access Dr Carter’s important thesis in his book, Interpreting Scripture With the Great Tradition, and we hope to put the audio from the study day online soon.