Kevin Vanhoozer: God has got his hands dirty


“The gospel is the good report that the eternal God has himself made a pilgrimage into history. The Father has sent his Son and his Spirit – what Irenaeus calls God’s ‘two hands’ – on missions into the far country. It is precisely because the eternal has entered into history – because God has got his hands dirty – that we do not have to rely on speculation to determine the way to truth and life. God has found a way to us; it suffices that we follow it back to him. It is precisely this realization that Christians are beneficiaries of the eschatological work of the triune God that enables them to walk the way of Jesus Christ with boldness and humility. Christian disciples are not the masters of meaning and truth but its humble servants. We have not devised the theodrama, but we have been accorded the dignity of playing a part in it.”

– Kevin Vanhoozer, Pilgrim’s Digress: Christian Thinking on and about the Post/Modern Way, In: Christianity and the Postmodern Turn, p. 98

Kevin Vanhoozer on reading the Bible in and with the church


“The church is the community dedicated to discovering the Bible’s meaning and to attesting its continuing significance.  It is, above all, the significance of Scripture that cannot be discerned apart from the receiving, believing community.  While biblical scholars can write commentaries about ‘what it meant,’ it takes the congregation – a living commentary – to display ‘what it means.’  The interpreting community does therefore have an important hermeneutic role, but…it is not that of producing but witnessing to meaning.”

“The church should be that community of readers whose hearts, minds, and imaginations are open to receive what is there in the text and who strive to embody it – the story, the promises, the commands, the law – in new contexts.”

“The testimony of the Spirit is not only to individuals but primarily to the church as a whole.  Yet the church is not the judge that arbitrates interpretive conflict so much as the permanent witness to Scripture’s meaning and significance.  …The Reformers had earlier likened the church to a schoolroom, in which believers become competent in the Christian way.  What Christians study in Scripture is God’s interpretation of reality, summed up in the story of Jesus Christ.  Christians, then, have a schoolroom (the church), a subject (the way of Jesus Christ), and a teacher (the Spirit).  And yes, there is a text in this class.”

– Kevin Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in this Text, p. 430

Kevin Vanhoozer on living between the Advents


“The climax – crucifixion, resurrection, Pentecost – may be in the past; not so the consummation.  The church lives between the times.  A new age – characterized by the Spirit’s ministry of the new covenant – has dawned, but the dawn has yet to give way to full daylight.  Present-day Christians find themselves stretched between two poles: we are audience to the historical drama and participants in its ongoing development.”

“Yet in one important respect – the eschatological – the church’s situation in the twenty-first century is the same as that of the first-century church: like the primitive church, the present-day church lives between the times, between the advents of Jesus Christ.  Thanks to the missions of the Son and Spirit, the present evil age now stands in dramatic tension with the new creation, for the latter has invaded the former.  The theo-drama is eschatological.  The church is caught up in a ‘war of the world’ and a conflict of ‘economies’: on the one side, the city of man with its economy of self-aggrandizement; on the other, the city of God with its economy of peace and love.”

“The purpose of Christian doctrine is to direct Christians to speak and act in ways that correspond to the distinct eschatological ethos that characterizes the kingdom of God.  As the apostle Paul says, we do not contend against flesh and blood, ‘but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).  These powers include ideologies that compete for the hearts and minds of individuals and nations.  Doctrine directs us to perform otherworldly scenes on the dimly lit cultural stages of this world.”

– Kevin Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, p. 111