I posted a few days ago on the idea of teaching students to read scripture uncritically. Richard Hays, in his article ‘Salvation by Trust? Reading the Bible Faithfully‘, has this say about the work of interpretation.
The real work of interpretation is to hear the text. We must consider how to read and teach scripture in a way that opens up its message and both models and fosters trust in God. So much of the ideological critique that currently dominates the academy fails to foster these qualities. Scripture is critiqued but never interpreted. The critic exposes but never exposits. Thus the word itself recedes into the background, and we are left talking only about the politics of interpretation, having lost the capacity to perform interpretations.
Although Hays’ article is not about reading uncritically, I think his message is applicable to teaching students to read uncritically. Any interpretation that moves move to quickly to critique, whether it is using scripture to critique an opponent or using our experience to critique scripture, is in danger of ignoring the text. And if we ignore the text how will we ever hear its message of grace. To quote Hays’ article one more time,
Left to our own devices we are capable of infinite self-deception, confusion and evil. We therefore must turn to scripture and submit ourselves to it…in order to find our disorders rightly diagnosed and healed.