Scripture: speaking to VS. converting the world

 I don’t believe that the Bible wants to “speak to the modern world.” Rather, I think the Bible wants to change, convert the modern world. —Bishop Will Willimon

The Rev. Frank Logue responds to Willimon in his post, On the Vocabulary of Church and Baseball:

I wholeheartedly agree about scripture seeking to transform our culture. However, I also think there should be a balance in preaching that Willimon seems to miss in moving from one pole to another. Just as I think sermons should balance speaking to the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions), I think we can not transform culture until we have spoken to it. What do you think? Should preaching speak to the culture or seek to transform it? (emphasis mine, jm)

And to this comes the opportunity for me to finally engage these ideas that Willimon puts forth:

There seems to be a few ideologies to follow in “transforming the world.”

1. You could mold it from the outside without interaction with it.

2. You could be inside of it and invite it into community with the Gospel.

The first option may be possible without ever speaking to the culture. It will also result in a conformed world that fits into the change agents view of what the result should be like. However, the second option requires the wolrd to be spoken to. The world must enter into the scripture with us and dialogue with it and the Holy Spirit. Then together we all change. As much as we are in the world and not of the world, we are in the world enought that we must remember to be transformed along with it.

So, my impression of where Willimon is going here is a hyperbole illustrating us being transformed by the culture. It would seem like the polar opposite would for the scripture to completely transform the world. The real middle is probably a place where we are all invited into the scriptures and we are transformed together by the grace and power of God.


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