J. Todd Billings, in The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture , is seeking to explain the new “theological interpretation of Scripture.” This approach is heavy on “theology” and critical of the more pragmatic approaches — how does this passage speak of business practices.
Here’s another major point Billings makes: “We start with faith in the triune God, a trust in Jesus Christ and the Spirit’s transforming power through Scripture. In reading Scripture, we seek to know and have fellowship with God in a deeper way.” He speaks of “mystery” and the need to “relinquish the position of being masters over the biblical text” (11).
Do you think we need to get beyond our preunderstandings? Do you think we should bracket our theology when reading the Bible? Do you think we should seek to come to the Bible with an empty slate? What does such an approach do to us when we read the Bible?
Billings then states that the rule of faith, the regula fidei, is essentially The Apostles’ Creed.
A major point: the NT authors did not read the Bible in order to find the author’s intention in its historical context. What Billings doesn’t speak to here is that many NT scholars are keen on stating very quickly that we cannot and should not reproduce the interpretive method of the early churches. This is quite the admission: it emerges from a commitment to the historical method and it admits that what we do is not the way the NT authors did things. Do you think this admission gives away the house? Does it actually bias us against a theological interpretation of Scripture?
For the earliest Christians, Christ was the key to Scripture and everything was read through that lens — allegory or not.
The regula fidei, then, provides guidance for how to read the Bible; it also provides parameters.
Big idea: We should not come to the Bible uncommitted. These are some of Billings’ central ideas.