The Sacramental Interpretation of Scripture & the Renewal of the Church — Earth and Altar

Blogging / Religion

There’s a reconnection with Holy Scripture during this time of quarantine. People are joining to read the Office on Sundays, and clergy and lay people are gathering online to read the Daily Office in record numbers. All that scripture needs to have some sort of interpretive framework.

James Stambaugh, writing on the site “Earth and Altar” delivers. He sets out a proper Barthian style hermeneutic and grounds it in the historical method of interpretation that goes back to the very earliest days of the Church.

There’s a full meal of teaching here – and this paragraph is just a taste:

The Sacramental Interpretation of Scripture & the Renewal of the Church — Earth and Altar:

What we lack is an emphasis on the spiritual food of Scripture.  For too long we have treated Scripture as an archeological dig; an academic exercise that has little or nothing to do with spiritual reality.  Historical-critical dalliances sometimes function as padding to soften any moral claims Scripture makes on us by finding a convenient loophole in the “original intent” of the author or the “context” of the original audience.  It’s like wrapping the Sword of Truth in a pool noodle so no one gets hurt.  In this attempt to buffer ourselves from the discomfort and conviction of reading Scripture seriously, we also buffer ourselves from its healing balm and sacramental power.  For Scripture to nourish us sacramentally we must acknowledge its spiritual claim on us.  This entails recovering a spiritual, sacramental way of reading Scripture that opens us to the experience of God’s grace.  A sacramental reading understands the words of Scripture as outward and visible signs that are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be inward and spiritual grace for us.  The words of God and God’s people recorded in Scripture are sacramentally transformed into the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

Go check out the whole article. When you read the office today, or recite the psalter, see if you can find Jesus in the readings. See if you can find a spiritual insight for you today as well as a greater general meaning as well. Reading this way transforms your engagement with scripture. I speak from my own experience here.

Off ‘ya go! 

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...