It's a melancholy day for me. The unspeakable terror and tragedy on the campus of Virginia Tech has combined with a couple of lesser-known stories that are sad news in my small world. "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." My only-but-great consolation, and joy even, is that God in Christ gets the last word.
On a slightly-related note, and at the risk of oversimplification . . .
It seems to me that over the last few decades, people in the Churches of Christ have increasingly rejected the "constitution view" of the Bible. These Christians no longer construe the Scriptures as a set of divine laws and gospel facts to be discerned, understood, and applied to exterior forms of the church (like terms of membership, items of worship, qualifications of officers, etc.). This approach, by the way, always favored the New Testament to the virtual exclusion of the Old.
Instead, it seems to me that people in Churches of Christ have moved in the direction of seeing the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) as a collection of writings which are, at the same time, (1) unified in their intent to reveal but (2) diverse in their forms and in their ways of revealing the heart and the mind of God. This view naturally requires a reader of a particular book in Scripture to be aware of and sensitive to the type of literature he's reading, to the specific intentions of the author, etc.
Not so long ago, any number of spokesmen in the Churches of Christ were railing against what they called "the new hermeneutics" among us. That is, they were speaking against what they perceived to be a new way of understanding what the Scriptures are and how they should be interpreted. What they were talking about then is what I'm talking about here. And regardless of where a person comes out on that traditional-versus-the-new debate, those who said the objections were much ado about nothing were wrong. Our hermeneutic (the singular here refers to the basic approach) was and is shifting. And it makes a huge difference.
One of those differences (and here's the tie-in to my present affect) is that the more-recent approach to Scripture among us has opened up many new possibilities; the possibility, for example, of actually using a book like Lamentations as a model and as a source for appropriate lament in the lives of individual Christians and even whole congregations (say, in the aftermath of 9/11). Compare that to the older approach in which the Book of Lamentations wasn't much more than a historical footnote.
Anyway, my questions to insiders, and to outsiders who know something about my group, are these:
1. From what you can tell, is my description of hermeneutical shift in the Churches of Christ accurate?
2. If so, what were/are the sources of such change?
3. Again if "yes" to number 1, then how is such change currently playing out? And what, according to your forecast, might be the long-term ramifications?