Wednesday 17 December 2008

Myk Habets on ‘The Dogma is the Drama’

Myk Habets, ‘“The Dogma is the Drama”: Dramatic Developments in Biblical Theology’, Stimulus 16, 4 (2008), 1-4.

This sample article from Stimulus provides a handy and brief overview of the current interest in seeing Scripture not merely as a story to be told but as a drama to be lived.

Habets begins by profiling the so-called Yale school narrative theologians (Hans Frei, George Lindbeck, David Kelsey) and their reading of Scripture as ‘a realistic narrative centred on the story of Jesus Christ’ (1). But he quickly notes that drama has become a dominant metaphor in more recent studies.

The Yale school effectively placed authority in the ‘cultural-linguistic’ community of the church, and Habets prefers Kevin Vanhoozer’s ‘canonical-linguistic’ approach to doctrine, which is ‘more firmly rooted in Scripture’, which is able to see that ‘the didactic and propositional portions of Scripture are… important in the biblical drama’, and which ‘understands that doctrine involves a particular way of life’ (1).

This last aspect is particularly important: ‘the performance of the drama in terms of ministry and mission’ (2). In a context where people lack a plot and a script, ‘dramatic theology offers each of us a way to re-script our lives in order that we may live purposefully’ (3, his italics).

In addition to Vanhoozer, Habets refers to Hans Urs von Balthasar, Michael Scott Horton, and Dorothy Sayers as significant contributors to this area of thought. He also draws on the notion of improvisation as explored by Samuel Wells, noting that ‘in light of the past and in anticipation of the future the church is presently called to act, play, improvise under the leading of the Holy Spirit until Christ’s return’ (4, his italics).

The goal of a dramatic theology is ‘to be thoroughly formed by God’s gracious interactions with humanity throughout time, as recorded in Scripture, that we are equipped, as a community of Spirit-filled believers, to be Christ to our neighbour’ (4).

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