Church as Context
In previous posts, I ran through the 4 basic ways that the people of God have interpreted the Bible over the centuries. These 4 Senses of Scripture reveal a depth to the text, and ultimately reveal Christ.
Imagine you are reading the Bible, and a flash on insight floods your brain, verses and images converge into a coherent picture. Quickly you write down your insights, planning to share with friends and church-mates, convinced you have stumbled upon something important that illuminates in ways no Christian has seen in the Church’s 2000 years.
This flash of light should be a warning sign, a neon sign on the streets of 1st Century Jerusalem, screaming something is wrong.
Not only does the text provide context for understanding—the Church is context.
St. Vincent of Lerins (434) “Hold fast that faith which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.”
So how do we stay in context and follow St. Vincent’s maxim.
- Read the Bible with the Church: follow the lectionary, think about why it is read and why especially on feast days.
- Listen for how Scripture is read in church.
- Ask questions.
- Does your reading deviate from standard Church teaching such as the Creed, beliefs about the Trinity, beliefs about Christ?
- Periodically dip into Church history. Look at the early controversies (pre-1000) and how they read and used Scripture.
- Read the Fathers. This can be intimidating because translations can be old and clunky, but stay with it. St. John Chrysostom is always a faithful guide.
How do you stay in context?