I've had a good week teaching a course called "Bible as Christian Scripture." You'd have to ask the students if they thought it was a good week but, for me, it was probably the best I've ever felt about the class. My goals for this class are mainly two-fold.
First, I want the students to continue to have a freedom in the Spirit not only to hear God speak to them in Scripture but to change and transform them to become more loving and Christ-like. But I also want them to have a heightened sense of what it might mean to read the words of the Bible in context. Since this latter area is the one that involves the most direction, it was inevitably where we spent the most time, learning the tools of inductive Bible study (IBS).
So each day this week involved a possible paradigm shift. Here's an attempt to summarize them:
The Bible is clearly history, but God uses it as a sacrament of transformation, where he sets the agenda for what it does in us. As Scripture, the goal is for God to master us through it, rather than for us to dissect and master it.
There is a certain, finite number of ways that two thoughts or two units of thought can relate to each other. These do not vary from culture to culture. They are intrinsic to the way God has created the world.
"Theology is not 'in' a word. Rather, a word is in a text, which is 'in' theology. The Bible as a text is 'in' Truth."
If you understand this comment, you will have made major progress toward reading the Bible in context: "Galatians is not part of the literary context of Romans but part of its historical context."
The Bible does not tell us how to apply its words to today. We are forced to do it ourselves. It's thus best for us to apply it in community, to keep us from starting a cult.