the blue parakeet

the blue parakeet: rethinking how you read the bible, by scot mcknight

i was stoked to get a pre-release copy of scot mcknight’s book in the mail, asking me for an endorsement. the publisher was asking for a stupid-quick turnaround (one week!); but that just gave me an excuse to put it on the top of my “to read” pile.

if you’ve read any of scot’s other books, the first 50 pages will feel a bit like a review of the paradigm he uses for his theology and writing (a good review, but a review nonetheless). but then things really start to kick into gear (i’d just started wondering if he was going to write anything with some teeth in it when i got past the first 50 pages and found them — the teeth, that is).

in many ways, this is mcknight’s edgiest book (and will certainly get him blacklisted by more extremists than his previous, excellent — but less controversial — books). not that mcknight pushes things in a way one might expect from, say, brian mclaren, or tony jones. mcknight is truly endorsing an approach to reading and applying the bible that acknowledges original intent, communal discernment, historical context, historical interpretation, and a few other variables. he forces us to admit (well, many of us were easy to convince on this one) that none of us — even the most ardent biblical literalist — does everything the bible says to do. we all “interpret” selectively.

this reality — that we all interpret selectively, apply selectively, choose which parts of scripture are to be taken at face value, and which parts are “for then, not for now” — gives us a humility when approaching scripture, and a humility when we articulate or live out our understanding of scripture.

mcknight gives a helpful bunch of examples — case studies, really — of themes and subjects (from homosexuality to women in ministry to many, many more), showing how to apply the ideas in the book. on the last subject, women in ministry, mcknight reveals his cards (on the others, he stays somewhat neutral), using the principles in the book to build a case for complete egalitarianism. (it should be noted, this isn’t a book about egalitarianism — it’s just an extended and thorough example of the author applying the suggestions he makes previously in the book as to how we should approach scripture).

here’s the “official” endorsement i wrote for the book:

Scot succeeds in articulating that often-elusive “third way” that so many of us long for: an option between the fighting polarities of liberal and conservative (a fight many of us have grow weary of). The Blue Parakeet gives us (gives me!) a practical and theologically grounded approach to reading, understanding, and applying the living and active Word of God.

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