Deconstructing Jesus – pt.4 February 22, 2008Posted by Matt in Bible, church, deconstruction, god, philosophy, postmodernism.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, Christianity, community, deconstruction, Derrida
Again, thank you for your comments on the last three entries.
Thusfar we have briefly explored Jacques Derrida’s claim that there is “nothing outside the text,” with the idea that the “text” in question is a metaphor for our interpretations of life experiences. In this view, everyone’s text is different based upon an individual interpretive framework. In yesterday’s entry, we looked at the idea of the “undeconstructible” concept of justice in Derrida’s philosophy, which, while affirming that reality is based upon an individual construct, opens the door to an underlying “truth”, regardless of how abstract it may be in his way of thinking.
So, what does this mean for us, as Christians, in our way of reading and studying and applying the Bible?
Though the majority of Christians affirm the Bible as the Word of God, it is obvious from the plethora of churches that they do not all arrive at the same conclusions when interpreting. Modernity brought about an isolating individualism that taught us that we could interpret the Bible for ourselves and gain a total understanding if we systematically studied it and, while it did afford people the opportunity to study and learn as they never had before, it also robbed many Christians of the communal nature of Scripture that characterized the early church. Over the centuries, the Scriptures have even been used recklessly to further the agendas of various groups – legitimizing everything from slavery to genocide. So, even though there are innumerable ways to view the same passages based on your personal interpretive lens, they cannot all be good and true. That would be logically incoherent.
So, in a world full of ideas and interpretive frameworks, what is the role of Scripture and the Church?
The role of the community must first be brought back to the forefront. This community of interpreters can then establish a context through which to interpret, by consensus, what constitutes the true text. Then, communities fix contexts and contexts determine meaning, with God as the “undeconstructible” base. Thus, the Biblical text becomes the “text” through which we view the world.
So, the Deconstructive Church makes the Biblical text central for shaping its interpretation of the world, but at the same time realizes and relishes its global nature which is characterized by diversity. It embraces tradition and history, but not traditionalism and a one-size-fits-all Christian faith. Instead we celebrate our differences and work together in love to come to a better understanding of our God.
Next week we’ll explore the idea of the Christian Faith as Metanarrative.