It is possible, and necessary, to draw theological meaning from biblical texts. However, only when the effort to do so is shaped by contemporary cultural and existential concerns will we be closer to understanding the nature, function, and role of Scripture in our lives, our churches, and our culture.
By default, my religious heritage and training leads me to privilege the biblical text and its cultural horizons. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that my own life experiences form the most urgent and relevant horizon in an effort to draw meaning from the Bible. Consequently, there is a dialectic operating not only within understandings of ancient texts then and now, but also operating between such understandings and human experience of all kinds–my own and that of all humanity, both then and now.
One of the most remarkable, humbling, and at the same disconcerting dynamics that emerges from this method is the capacity of Scripture to transcend its ancient idiosyncratic contexts to perform personal, social, and cultural critique (then and now) in the service of the present and coming Reign of God.
John D. Fortner