Wayne Meeks: “Renounce the Phrase, ‘The Bible Clearly Teaches'” (Skinner)

Here’s another gem from the Meeks lectures I mentioned yesterday:

So let us renounce the phrase, “the Bible clearly teaches.” And every time we hear it let us immediately be on our guard. Of course, it is a convenient shorthand to personify the Bible as agent, as teacher. St Paul did that when he quoted a text in Romans 10:6 with the introduction, “the righteousness of faith says…” But let us remember that when Paul said that he then proceeded to give that text a meaning that was outrageously different from its contextual, grammatical, plain sense. In our situation, when people say, “the Bible clearly teaches,” instead of, for example, “we can learn from the Bible if we stand within a certain community’s tradition,” or “we can find these ideas in Scripture if we construe Scripture in such-and-such a way”…. When they make the Bible the agent of their assertions, you see—“the Bible teaches,” not “we teach because this is the way we understand it”—when they do that, they are really masking the locus of the authority they are claiming.

52:39 – 53:55 of the Lecture 4 discussed here. (Update: Thanks to Dave Mackinder for pointing out that these lectures were the basis for Meeks’s book, Christ is the Question [Louisville: WJK, 2005]).