Searching for the Pattern: My Journey in Interpreting the Bible by John Mark Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Searching for the Pattern is both a challenging and enlightening read. My friend Dr. John Mark Hicks has presented an interesting approach to interpreting the Bible that is rooted in the story of the Bible itself.
I wonder if anyone who did NOT grow up in the Church of Christ will be able to identify with the spiritual journey that Dr. Hicks presents. I suppose every denomination has its extremes, and maybe if one changes the names, the story would remain the same. But I don’t know. As a lifelong member of the Church of Christ, I know all too well the journey he has taken. But I know I couldn’t have put it in the kind of words / framework that he has. I do think that any Christian who is committed to studying the Bible would benefit from the approach that is most clearly outlined in the second half of the book – a theological hermeneutic.
I will say that I am very very appreciative of the tone that Dr. Hicks sets as he talks about those with whom he knows will disagree with him. He is no stranger to how churches treat those who think outside of the box and arrive at different conclusions. Even so, he is kind as he speaks about those who still retain a sturdy tripartite hermeneutic of command/example/inference and who search the scriptures for a blueprint for today.
Along the way there were a few times where I felt very uncomfortable reading this book. It does address, after all, the kind of approach to interpretation that I grew up with, was trained in, and exercised for many years. Still, my discomfort was evident as I continued to read and soak in the approach he suggests. To my relief, as I read, I understood that he had the same discomforts as he described his journey and addressed the very concerns that were running through my mind.
I highly recommend this book, primarily for those who are familiar with the Churches of Christ and the approach to the Bible that is common among us. I think ministers and studious Christians would gain much from this book. I would hope and pray that it is influential in the minds and studies of young men who are entering the ministry. Maybe they won’t be like me, with many sermons presenting 2+2=5 (because a ‘necessary’ inference became larger than the text itself!).
I’m grateful to John Mark Hicks for this book and his friendship and the scholarship he brings to the table.
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