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John Wilson, Editor


Stranger in a Strange Land

As evangelicals we should remain steadfast in our affirmation of the primacy of Holy Scripture, but this should not be taken to imply scriptural exclusivity. We need to reason beyond the parameters of Scripture as we relate the doctrines and themes of Scripture to the new challenges to the faith posed in every succeeding generation. Just as the church came to the right conclusion regarding the two natures of Christ and the Trinity through deliberate and prolonged reflection on Scripture but also drawing upon the intellectual tools provided by the culture of that time, so the church throughout history and in our time must wrestle with the implications of the message of faith in dialogue with all other Christian communions. Yet we must never forget that church tradition can be deceptive, that again and again it is tempted to transgress the limitations imposed by Scripture, that it needs itself to be continually purified and reformed in the light of a fresh appropriation of the Holy Spirit. Church tradition can be a salutary guide to faith but only when it functions under the ruling authority of Holy Scripture.

Something strange is happening among America's cultural elite. Small groups of the intelligentsia—novelists, neurosurgeons, staff writers for the New Yorker—are meeting with rabbis or pastors to study the Book of Job or the Gospels. People who wouldn't have been caught dead with a Bible five years ago are poring over Scripture with the zeal of seminarians.

There have been signs of this surprising surge of Bible study for some time. One is the popularity of literary approaches to the Bible, including a whole shelf of volumes in which writers of one sort or another (not biblical scholars, that is, but creative writers), generally heterodox, take a crack at interpreting this or that chunk of the Bible. A current example is Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited,a collection of original essays edited by novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke (Little, Brown, ...

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