Kevin Vanhoozer responds to my implementation query

Kevin Vanhoozer was kind enough to respond to my query regarding the implementation of his vision in actual faith communities (see the previous post for his proposal). Here is my query followed by his response:

What would it look like for a faith community who grasped the importance of cultural exegesis to cultivate these abilities in its people? You assert, “The church should be not only a ’school of faith’ but a ’school of understanding’ that trains the imaginations of its student-saints to see, judge, and act in the world as it really is ‘in Christ’” (p. 58). Could you imagine with us what it might look for a church to take on that calling of training cultural interpreters and live it out? Or for an educational institution like a Christian seminary to do the same?

This is an important discussion. I’m not sure, however, that my special gift lies inasburyseminaryvanhoozer.jpg implementation so much as conception of ideas. However, if I were a pastor I would be sure to have film viewings, book discussions, and youth as well as Adult education classes that would engage past and present culture. As in church, so in seminary: Christian disciples need to learn to read not only the word of God but the world of God through the word of God. It’s all part of Christian world view formation, and of Christian world construction (by which I mean “cultivating Jerusalem in the midst of Babylon”).

If I were a pastor, I would try to exposit biblical passages in such a way that my sermons would illumine not only the text, but the world in which we live. I think such a “transposition” (what I have also called world-for-world translation) is every bit as important as the traditional “individual application.”

Many thanks to Kevin Vanhoozer for his thoughtful reply!

Is there anything else we would want to add or other ways to think about implementation?


3 thoughts on “Kevin Vanhoozer responds to my implementation query

  1. “If I were a pastor, I would try to exposit biblical passages in such a way that my sermons would illumine not only the text, but the world in which we live.”

    This makes me rather uncomfortable. I come from a hermeneutic where I first and foremost attempt to reconstruct the biblical author’s initial thoughts and concepts, so exegetical methods with the explicit attempt to relate it to modern society seems to be putting the cart before the horse.

    Vanhoozer may not have been implying this, so I’m not necessarily disagreeing with anything- just voicing concern. Theology and interpretations not rooted in the life of a community are ventures in futility, but I’m concerned that Vanhoozer’s goal might eventually overwhelm his method in a Machiavellian ‘the ends justifies the means’ manner.

    What are the thoughts of others? Am I missing the point?


  2. Earl, I am not sure Vanhoozer is saying anything more than most of us would who preach the Scriptures in the real world would want to say: preaching should relate the world of the Bible to the world in which we live – at the same time not domesticating the gospel and also not sticking one’s head in the sand concerning the culture.

    It reminds me of what Karl Barth said concerning the Bible and the newspaper: “One broods alternately over the newspaper and the New Testament and actually sees fearfully little of the organic connection between the two worlds concerning which one should now be able to give a clear and powerful witness” in Revolutionary Theology in the Making, p. 45.

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