Do we tell the Bible what it's for, or does it tell us what we are for?
Is the text of Scripture ours to interpret, or is Scripture God's way of enabling us to interpret ourselves, our world and God's ways in the light of Christ?
Here's Brueggemann in full flow:
This practice of imagination is textual. It arises from the intense and sustained study of this inexhaustible text that we take to be Holy Scripture. We notice regularly that this text comprises for us and offers to us what is not otherwise known. This text-driven, text-compelled imagination keeps us under the discipline of close study, for it is not free-lance fantasy. The matter of the text is urgent, precisely because a "modernist" church - liberal and conservative - has largely given up on the text as our gospel script of otherwise".
Walter Brueggemann, Testimony to Otherwise. The Witness of Elijah and Elisha (St Louis: Chalice Press, 2001), page 40.
Forget about Bible reading and "the quiet time"; Bible reading is the disquiet time. And don't read Scripture text to fuel devotional feelings, but to ignite imaginative faith in the God who dares us to think and act otherwise. Scripture text is not intended to confirm for us our spiritual and theological status quo, but to call us and our communities of faith into question, to unsettle our settled convictions because God is always urging us beyond what we already know and have learned to live with.
"In truth, if one examines the great hymns and prayers or the sacramental cadences of the church, it is abundantly clear that the characteristic rhetoric of the church, when it speaks its own 'mother tongue' is in images and metaphors and narratives and songs and oracles that make almost no concession to dominant definitions of the possible". (page 41)
And in all our talk about vision and strategy, emergent church, transformative practices, alternative community, this text becomes a sifting interrogative voice, that compels our attention, requires our responsive listening and subverts those "dominant definitions of the possible" that limit the range and reach of the Gospel. Amongst the most important contributions Brueggemann has made to the Christian community is this call to so live in the text of Scripture that we bear witness and give testimony to a Gospel that makes the world otherwise. How does the church embody a life that is so "otherwise" it is good news for the world? The question would be an interesting evaluative criterion for church programmes, Christian community lifestyle and individual Christians' daily discipleship.