I went to seminary to become a pastor and theologian, but it was of all places, as a member of the Seminary Chorus where I most learned to be a theologian. This was because Henry, or rather Pastor Gerike, had many side comments he would make as he went about explaining the music we sang or in the many conversations on choir tours and around campus.
One of the most insightful comments he made was regarding our reading and studying of Scripture. He remarked (to the effect), “Don’t interpret Scripture, let it interpret you.” This was profound. Rather than standing above and over Scripture with our reason and ever so profound intellects as Lord injecting the meaning we wish to give Scripture to make it say what we want it to say; instead we ought stand… or better yet kneel under Scripture, humbly allowing it to shape and conform us to its image. This was extraordinarily helpful when Scripture has some really tough things to say about us and about this world.
It isn’t easy, mind you to hear something that may fly in the face of this world and the culture we live in. But rather than seeing what Scripture has to say as hostile or threatening, to try to see it as good, as pointing us to Christ, now this is the task of a theologian (which I would argue every Christian is called to be to some degree)! This embodies, I think, what Luther was getting at in his distinction between a theologian of glory and a theologian of the Cross. The former stands above Scripture, the latter, below.
Merciful and gracious Lord, You cause Your Word to be proclaimed in every generation. Stir up our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may receive this proclamation with humility and finally be exalted at the coming of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
(Collect for Proper 26 A)