Pastor 7 – “Obedient Playfulness” with the Text

Honestly, this is one of the best sections of any book I have ever read.  I have rarely been this excited and passionate about anything I’ve read related to the power of Scripture.  In the reading of these words, my reason for being a pastor was reaffirmed.  I have experienced firsthand the world altering power of Scripture, and I want to spend my life communicating this explosive truth with others!  Enjoy the following quotes from Willimon’s book Pastor:

“We must read the Bible in a way that is more careful and respectful than simply going to the Bible, rummaging about, picking and choosing on the basis of what we consider to be possible and permissible within our present context. To do so is not to align our lives with the witness of the saints, but rather to, in Barth’s words, “adorn ourselves with their feathers.” The temptation is to discard that which makes us uncomfortable or that which does not easily fit into our present conceptual scheme of things. Therefore, an appropriate hermeneutical question is not simply, What does this text mean? but rather, How is this text asking me to change?

. . . .Part of the joy of being a biblical preacher is that we get a front row seat on the spectacle of the creation of a new world. The Bible wants to give us new experiences, to create a new reality that would have been unavailable to us without the Bible. The Bible does not simply want to speak to the modern world. The Bible wants to change the world, to create for us a world, through words, that would have been inaccessible to us without our submission to the text called Scripture.” p. 126

“Pastors, in their counseling, preaching, and teaching, cultivate the virtues of humble, obedient listening to Scripture. We must discipline ourselves not to take a superior attitude toward the text. We ought to nurture, in the words of Walter Brueggeman, an “obedient playfulness” with the text — submitting to Scripture, being willing to be judged and changed by the text, and at the same time playfully delighting in the wonder, the weirdness, the sheer otherness of the text. . . .We come to a biblical text, raising questions about its relevance to our present daily lives, only to find that the text questions us about our relevance to the way of Christ.”” p. 130-131

“I have been told that the great Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad attended a small church in his native Germany — a small church with a young pastor who was not noted for his skill or his preaching. When asked why he kept returning to the church, Von Rad responded that, despite the pastor’s inadequacies, he had one great strength. When he read the Bible on Sundays, he always approached Scripture “as if he were opening a package that contained a ticking bomb. . . .

. . . .As I heard Walter Brueggemann say, “If you are a coward by nature, [And who among us is not?] then you can get down behind the text. You can peek out from ehind it and say the congregation, ‘this is not necessarily what I would say to you, but I do think this is what the text is saying to you.'” I love that image of the pastor hunkered down behind the text, pushing the text out toward the people. To love the text and its voice more than our own, or even that of our people, is the beginning of wisdom.” p. 132

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