Deferring Meaning – Subjectively

“If you are a scholar, remember that if you do not read God’s Word in another way, it will turn out that after a lifetime of reading God’s Word man hours every day, you nevertheless have never read – God’s Word” (S. Kierkegaard).

As I study for finals, I realize how guilty I am of this. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what a text means is what a text meant, a poor hermeneutic of any text, much more so the Word of God. Why is this so easy? It allows for a disengagement of the text, the text no longer means anything to me; actually, only in some vague sense then can it mean at all.

It is also easy to defer a subjective reading of Scripture until ‘you have it figured out.’ However, Kierkegaard again reminds us of a stinging truth. “His point is that there are enough perfectly clear [texts] to keep one busy without having to wait for the conclusions of biblical research before one can live as a Christian” (R. Bauckham, James, 7). What then, I ask myself is the point of learning it in the first place? It is for the love of the Church. I agree that not everyone needs to be deep thinkers theologically, they only need to be deep doers Christologically. However, some do need to be deep thinkers theologically. I am certainly not ‘cut from the same cloth’ (as Dave D would say) intellectually as even many within my own institution but I don’t need to be more intellegent than others, only faithful.

But one thing is clear, the more I know, the harder it is to engage in the text in a subjectively meaningful way. Understanding redemptive-history is important, but Scriptures are also written to us and not just for us.

Once more, as Kierkegaard says,
when you read God’s Word you must (so that you actually do come to see yourself in the mirror) remember to say to yourself incessantly: It is I to whom it is speaking; It is I about whom it is speaking.


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