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03 November 2008

Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat

The husband-wife duo Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat have co-authored Colossians Re:mixed: Subverting the Empire and (forthcoming) Romans Disarmed. Sylvia is adjunct professor of Biblical Studies and Hermeneutics at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. Brian is the co-author of Transforming Vision and Truth is stranger than it used to be (with Richard Middleton).

Here is a taster of their podcast interview:

If you could change one thing about how Christians today interact with the Bible, what would it be?

Brian Walsh: "One thing would be that we need to read the Scriptures as offering us a liberating and alternative worldview - by which I don’t just mean a framework of thinking, but rather an alternative imagination, shaping us so deeply. If every time we read the Scriptures they seem to confirm us in what we already believe, we’re probably misreading the Scriptures. If when we read the Scriptures we’re never upset, we’re probably misreading the Scriptures. All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching and correction and reproof, and we need that correction and reproof. We have to liberate the Scriptures from two bad kinds of readings. One is the individualism we’ve been talking about. We have to hear this as God’s story and God’s revelation for the shaping of all creation and a whole new humanity in creation. A second thing would be that we have to liberate the Scriptures from the shackles of dogma. Yes, the Scriptures are there to teach us certain kinds of things, but I think what we do is, we criticise the Catholics because they have a magisterium that functions as the interpretive rule upon the Scriptures. Evangelicals have a “magisterium”. It may be justification by faith. It’s usually rooted in a bad reading of Romans, and that’s why we’re presently doing a new book called Romans Disarmed, trying to offer an alternative reading of Romans. I think that the Scriptures are shackled when they become a text of systematic theology as opposed to a living narrative, the testimony of the living community and what God is doing in that community."

Sylvia Keesmaat: "Just to follow on from that - Brian talked about the Scriptures being a living narrative. I think the one thing that needs to happen is that people need to stop reading the Bible in atomised bits as books. There’s this book here, there’s this passage here, and nothing relates. This is a continuous story from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation. And that story has the beginning of a plot, and that plot unfolds. It’s about how God relates to the world, about this good creation that goes dramatically wrong, and evil and curse and sin coming into that world. The whole story is God interacting with creation and a community to bring blessing, to bring redemption into that brokenness and into that sinful situation. Until we start to see the whole book as a story that is continuous, that unfolds, that comes to its climax in Jesus - until we get a sense of that narrative, we’re never going to really know how to live out of the story. We’re going to be trying to use the Bible as an example or a rule book, and it’s not a helpful rule book, and the examples are quite frankly terrible if you read the Old Testament carefully. We need to embody the story, and we can’t do that until we know the story very, very well."