Joel highlighted how the Modern, Post-Enlightenment era of the past two to three hundred years has had a heavy influence upon biblical interpreters. Modernity stressed scientism which held up the notion that everything can be simplified, quantified and proven objectively. Biblical theologians of the past several hundred years bought into this and tried to interpret Scripture more through scientific detachment than artful intimacy with the biblical story. In other words, many biblical interpreters have been told that in order to rightly interpret a Bible text they must go about it without letting their faith commitments get in the way. They asserted, "you must remain objective" which in many cases translated into "you must view the text with suspicion." They were taught to master the biblical text instead of being mastered by it.
Joel Green argues against this view. While the methods of historical-criticism that the Modern period gave us should not be dismissed, those methods should not take the lead in the dance of biblical interpretation. Joel suggests that Christians, if we are going to interpret Scripture for the Church, must view Scripture not with suspicion but as the Word of God. This does not mean one ignores biblical scholarship, but that one views Scripture as the Word of God intended to transform our lives.
Another major thrust of the class, and one that has huge implications for preaching, is the narrative reading of Scripture. Because the Modern period provided methods that picked apart biblical texts and scrutinized the history behind the text, the narrative story of the Bible was largely ignored. The outcome of Modern Hermeneutics was a bunch of ahistorical principles that were, in essence, pulled out of the biblical story told from Genesis to Revelation. Texts were interpreted in isolation from the larger Scripture story and resulted in sermons like "5 Principles For Being A Good Person" or "7 Ways to Spend Your Money" or...well you get the idea.
Sermons became a bunch of propositional points totally disconnected from and independent of the story of God's creation, salvation, and redemption of the world that culminates in the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of His son Jesus Christ. I have been guilty of preaching these propositional principles while neglecting the meta-narrative, the grand story that Scripture tells. A sermon that extracts principles and points that have nothing to do with the story of God through Scripture is neither relevant nor engaging, in my estimation, but merely pragmatic. And ultimately the thing that shapes the me and you into the people of God is not a bunch of pragmatic and moralistic pieces of advice that may make us a good person but the telling of a hopeful, redemptive story that is so wondrous and grand and transcendant that we are actually drawn in to it so that we are transformed by it. The Premodern Church realized this, the Modern Church nearly lost it, and the Postmodern Church is beginning, I hope, to rediscover this preaching paradise lost and found.
Okay, I have sermonized enough for now. I welcome your thoughts, especially as I myself continue to work out the implications of reading and interpreting Scripture as one big meta-narrative and not a pragmatic handbook of propositional principles that may make us nicer but not necessarily God-formed people.