According to George Lindbeck, the reason why modern church is defenseless in their confrontation against the motley strands of modernity is all because it no longer practices the kind of unifying biblical hermeneutics within the soteriological framework that the early church embodies.
What does this practice actually entail?
Peter Ochs (Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies University of Virginia) summarizes the appeal Lindbeck advances in The Nature of Doctrine:
To recover these practices is, following Barth, to resituate Christian theology as a practice of reading the Gospel as itself a practice of rereading the Old Testament history of Israel. This rereading is not a one time event, however, as if we could say, « well, the Gospel already reread the Old Testament, so we will learn the meaning of the Old simply by rereading the New. » It is, instead, a perennial event of returning to the plain sense of Israel’s story and rediscovering, everyday, what it now means in light of the Gospel narrative.
For Lindbeck, this practice of rereading implies that the story of Israel remains integral to Christianity‘s scriptural witness and that it remains open, as well. No contemporary Christian reader knows, beforehand, all that any text of the Old Testament means, since each reading must return to rediscover the texts of the Old Testament as they will be re-read in light of the Gospel witness for this day. Rediscovering the message of the Old Testament, the Christian reader also rediscovers the place of Israel in salvation history. But the meaning of that place of Israel is not yet fully defined. While the Christian reader knows that « Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel, » no reader knows before the present moment of reading everything there is to say about the meaning of that sentence. Lindbeck returns us, on this note, to the principle of semper reformandi.
– Ochs, Peter. « The nature of doctrine: religion and theology in a postliberal age » Review & Expositor, 103 no 1 Wint 2006, p 239
- Perennial rehearsal (preaching) of the Old Testament is the key by which we keep our Christian message integral [in defense of the divisions of modernity and relativism and postmodernity]. It is the recovery of the Eastern tradition of metaphors and narratives for contemplating the dominant logic of the West, the continuity of the Old with the New, and unity of the philosophical high (metaphysics) and low (ethics).
- Our study of the Bible today must be oriented to serve the unity of the church, in Lindbeck’s thoughts, first, in terms of the Catholic-Protestant relations, then in relations between the Western and Eastern Churches, and both now—and in the eschatological « then »—in relations between the Church and the People of Israel.
Revelation 5:7-14 καὶ ἦλθεν καὶ εἴληφεν ἐκ τῆς δεξιᾶς τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου. 8 Καὶ ὅτε ἔλαβεν τὸ βιβλίον, τὰ τέσσαρα ζῷα καὶ οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι ἔπεσαν ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου ἔχοντες ἕκαστος κιθάραν καὶ φιάλας χρυσᾶς γεμούσας θυμιαμάτων, αἵ εἰσιν αἱ προσευχαὶ τῶν ἁγίων, 9 καὶ ᾄδουσιν ᾠδὴν καινὴν λέγοντες· ἄξιος εἶ λαβεῖν τὸ βιβλίον καὶ ἀνοῖξαι τὰς σφραγῖδας αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐσφάγης καὶ ἠγόρασας τῷ θεῷ ἐν τῷ αἵματί σου ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς καὶ γλώσσης καὶ λαοῦ καὶ ἔθνους 10 καὶ ἐποίησας αὐτοὺς τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν βασιλείαν καὶ ἱερεῖς, καὶ βασιλεύσουσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. 11 Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν ἀγγέλων πολλῶν κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ τῶν ζῴων καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, καὶ ἦν ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτῶν μυριάδες μυριάδων καὶ χιλιάδες χιλιάδων 12 λέγοντες φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· ἄξιόν ἐστιν τὸ ἀρνίον τὸ ἐσφαγμένον λαβεῖν τὴν δύναμιν καὶ πλοῦτον καὶ σοφίαν καὶ ἰσχὺν καὶ τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν καὶ εὐλογίαν. 13 καὶ πᾶν κτίσμα ὃ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς πάντα ἤκουσα λέγοντας· τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ καὶ τῷ ἀρνίῳ ἡ εὐλογία καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. 14 καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα ζῷα ἔλεγον· ἀμήν. καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ἔπεσαν καὶ προσεκύνησαν.