Interview with Dr. Kevin J. Vanhoozer

04.07.2020  |  Season 1  |  Episode 7



SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. Michelle Knight and Dr. James Arcadi interview Dr. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, who has been back at TEDS since 2012. (We’re so glad that he is!)

James and Michelle learn about Kevin’s long-standing interest in hermeneutics, his passion for Christian education, and his vision for equipping the church and the academy. We also learn about how those values have shaped his career.

If you enjoy this episode and want to understand more about the relationship being sound doctrine and faithful Christian practice, be sure to grab a copy of Kevin’s latest book: Hearers and Doers (2019), published by Lexham Press.

Transcript

Intro

You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

James Arcadi
Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m James Arcadi.

Michelle Knight
And I’m Michelle Knight.

Arcadi
We are coming to you today, not “live,” although we’re not ever “live” because this is a podcast to record, yes, but not from our studio in Deerfield at the campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, but we’re observing our governor’s mandate to stay at home and work from home—

Knight
Yes.

Arcadi
and so we’re coming to you from our respective houses. Michelle, where are you?

Knight
I’m in an office upstairs trying to hide from my son, who…needs to forget that I’m at home. My cat is outside the door, pretty upset that he got kicked out.

Arcadi
You should have your cat on the podcast. I like cats, I don’t mind cats, yeah.

Knight
Well great. There was some cat hate earlier on this podcast so I’m kind of glad we’re coming back around to this. [LAUGHS] Where are you coming from?

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] I’m coming to you from what is pretty much the “everything” room in my house. This is like, we have our TV in here, the piano is in here, my desk that I’m using as my home office is in here. It’s also sometimes a guest room because it’s got a couch with a pullout bed in it. All of my books are here as well—the ones that aren’t in my office—and uh, it’s sort of where I’ve been holed up here on our “stay” at home.

Knight
James, you’re kind of living in a “room of requirement.” Are you familiar with this term?

Arcadi
A “room of requirement”?

Knight
It’s a Harry Potter term. Um…

Arcadi
That then speaks to my not having read the Harry Potters.

Knight
Yeah, I know. I got that vibe from you. But, in Harry Potter there’s a “room of requirement” and it becomes whatever room it needs to be—

Arcadi
Ooh!

Knight
based on who needs it. So it actually is a fairly apt title that you might consider using.

Arcadi
So now, I’m presently in my home office, but in a few hours it’s going to be the piano studio—

Knight
Exactly.

Arcadi
and then later on it will be the home theater. [LAUGHING] Right?

Knight
Whatever you need it to be.

Arcadi
Whatever it needs to be.

Knight
The “room of requirement.”

Arcadi
The “room of requirement.”

Knight
Just saying.

Arcadi
I like that term. I think I’ll put that on a sign and put it over the door.

Knight
I’d appreciate that.

Arcadi
Um, yeah. Well, today we are thrilled to have with us Kevin Vanhoozer on the show. He is the research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He’s been around at TEDS for quite a few years, and actually, this is his third time at TEDS. He was at TEDS for a while and then went to Edinburgh and taught there for eight years, came back to TEDS and then went down the street to Wheaton College for about four years and then came back to TEDS for his third coming.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Well, Kevin Vanhoozer, it’s great to have you with us on the show today. I was wondering if you might just start us off by talking a bit about how you came to TEDS, how you found yourself the first time around at TEDS or now the third time around at this institution.

Kevin Vanhoozer
Yeah! Thanks for having me on the program. So, I’m not a Hollywood star, but I do feel that I was discovered by a Trinity “agent”—

[LAUGHTER]

Don Carson. He was on sabbatical at Cambridge as was his want and I was finishing up my doctoral studies, and we happened to meet at Tyndale House, and I remember very clearly what happened. I was giving a paper—something to do with Scripture and hermeneutics to fellow PhD students—and he stuck his head in the door, just his head, and then he listened for a few seconds and then stepped in, stood in the back, and then after five minutes, I saw that he sat down in the back row. I finished my talk and he came straight up to the podium and asked me if I’d ever thought of teaching at Trinity.

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] Wow!

Knight
No way! That’s a great story.

Vanhoozer
I really wish I could remember what I said—

[LAUGHTER]

Vanhoozer
So yes, it was thanks to Don Carson because, frankly, though I knew about Trinity, I had never visited it. I didn’t really know anybody who had studied there. I was in a different part of the country. Californians typically went to Fuller. I went to Westminster, so it was thanks to Don Carson, so I owe him one.

Knight
[LAUGHS] As do we. As do we. So you said you studied at Cambridge. Tell us a little bit more about your academic journey, where you’ve studied, what you’ve studied, and what that trajectory looked like.

Vanhoozer
Yeah! So, my parents have always supported me in my education. I really wouldn’t be doing what I was doing if it weren’t for their support, and it surprises me when I look back because both of them were kind of, well, “working” class, maybe white collar, but…but not really well educated themselves. Um, but they wanted me to go to good schools, so I actually went to a private high school. I was the first non-boarding student at my local “prep” high school—

Knight
Interesting.

Vanhoozer
—and I had an excellent experience there. So I’ve always been looking for excellent experiences that could live up to my high school experience, and because it was a “prep” school, they wanted me to go to an East Coast college. So thanks to their help, I got into Amherst College, but Amherst had this program at the time of “deferred admission” where you could take a year off and do something amazing and become a well-rounded person, and I thought, “I want to be that person.” So, I did something very unusual. I went to a Christian liberal arts college—

[LAUGHTER]

—my “off” year, and that’s because I had a mentor, Robert Gundry, who taught at Westmont (the New Testament scholar), and he just said, “Before you go off to this secular college, you should have a Christian grounding,” and I thought, “This is good idea.” So Amherst—the people there were very skeptical. You know, they said, “We typically don’t want the year of your deferred admission to be spent at another college,” but, uh, in God’s providence, Westmont, then, set the bar for what I wanted a college education to be and when I did go to Amherst, I felt as though it wasn’t as “liberal” in the true sense of the term as Westmont had been—

Knight
Interesting.

Vanhoozer
—because I was not exposed to the wide range of opinions I was given in my philosophy class; an introduction to something I think must have been “logical positivism,” that made fun of the arguments for the existence of God. In my literature class, I was given what I now recognize was “new criticism;” not a survey of the many ways to read, but an indoctrination into one way to read. I remember my professor calling me into the office—because I was a problem student—and he said, you know, “You’re reading books as if they were problems to be solved. We want you to use books as an opportunity for you to explore yourself.” And, there’s something ok about that, but I thought, “That doesn’t work with regard to the Bible all that well.” That was really the first time I saw a connection between ways people read books in general and the implications for reading Scripture. So, after one semester at Amherst, I wrote a letter to my mentor, Bob Gundry, and signed off as the “prodigal son,” and asked if they would have me back—

[LAUGHTER]

—And he replied and he said, “Not only will we have you back, we will roast the calf of academic instruction to your taste. Well done!”

[LAUGHTER]

Knight
I love that hermeneutics has been a part of your emphasis for that long!

Vanhoozer
Yeah! So that experience of the Christian liberal arts college, that really was formative for me. I did take a break from academics, believe it or not, and I wondered if I would ever get back to school, but after college, I did a short-term missions stint in France, trying to use my Christian liberal arts education to “save the French” —

[LAUGHTER]

—by using classical music as a way of, um, making inroads into a sector in French society that the church wasn’t teaching. And when I had that possibility put on my lap, I just couldn’t resist it. And that was a formative experience too (outside of the classroom). Yeah, so I spent three years at Cambridge doing a doctorate, and then I did a one year post-doc fellowship in the, actually philosophy of religion, as it turns out. So I had four years altogether and then came back to Trinity…

Arcadi
Now, you’re talking about places you’ve lived, too. We should also mention you spent a spell of time at Edinburgh in Scotland. Um, that was eight years or so. Is that right?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, that is a spell of time. Eight years? Yes.

Knight
[LAUGHS] That’s a minute!

Vanhoozer
It was a formative time because that’s where I think of my children growing up—

Knight
Oh, ok.

Vanhoozer
—They kind of grew up in Scotland, yes.

Knight
That makes sense, ok.

Arcadi
What was your favorite Scottish food to eat as you dug into that culture?

Knight
[LAUGHS] We talk about food on this podcast a lot

Arcadi
Maybe too much.

Knight
—so forgive us.

Vanhoozer
Well, so it has no reflection on the salary I was paid by the university, but it’s a little treat called “millionaire’s shortbread”—

[LAUGHTER]

—and it’s shortbread with a layer of chocolate and caramel on top.

Knight
Oh, that sounds lovely.

Vanhoozer
“Millionaire’s shortbread,” yes.

Knight
I’ll keep that in mind! Well, thank you so much for kind of giving us a background and an introduction. It’s been clear that hermeneutics, cultural hermeneutics, how to read a text—all of these things have been integral to your focus throughout your education, but how would you more broadly conceive of what you perceive your calling to be, both in the academy as it relates to the church…um, could you describe that role as you see it?

Vanhoozer
I like what Calvin said about himself—“A reader of Scripture,” though I would want to add, “reader of Scripture andreader of culture,” and then reading how these two things go together. But, um yeah my primary vocation is serving the church primarily through academic work, teaching future pastors, writing books and so on. And, I think a lot of what I’ve done amounts to vision-casting, trying to help people see the big Biblical picture in ways that make the story intelligible and compelling. So, in one sense, it’s about literacy—Biblical literacy, cultural literacy, theological literacy—helping people to have the basic competence to read Scripture and lead their lives, uh, in a way that is faithful to Scripture.

Knight
Amen.

Arcadi
If I could pick up on that last point there—and maybe, Kevin, that’s a kind of a nice segue way into some of the stuff you’ve written recently, especially this “Hearers and Doers” book, which is trying to do that very last thing—how do you live out, how do you “do” that which you see being, I don’t know, put forth for you in Scripture and in your reading of culture? Is that kind of like the main trajectory or the main “third step” towards engaging practically as you read Scripture and read culture?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, so, you know, I use different images or metaphors to think about the vocation—and I mentioned “reader of Scripture,” but another one I like to use is “minister of understanding,” because theology has been called “faith-speaking” work—seeking understanding. If I teach people theology, then, if I’m doing it well, I’m “ministering” understanding, and understanding isn’t simply theoretical. It’s also practical. When I understand my situation, I know what to do, then. So the understanding I’m after is not only theoretical, it’s also practical.

Knight
Sometimes—Uh, I think actually James and I have been together a couple of times when students have come to us and explain that they’re kind of in a position where they’re trying to perceive whether the academy or whether the church is a place to which they’ve been called, and my experience so far at Trinity is that a lot of students come sort of with that question open. Can you tell us in what ways you see those two roles related, and what the discernment process might look like for someone in that situation as they try to perceive—considering how overlapping these two vocations are—how those two things might interact or how they have for you or, those sorts of things?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, I want to pick up what you said about the two vocations overlapping. I get a little nervous when “church” and “academy” are set at different ends of a spectrum. Obviously, they’re different, but, you know, I think the seminary—ourpart of the academy—exists to serve the church. And, I also resist the idea that the “best” student should always go to the academy.—

Knight
Yes.

Vanhoozer
—Uh, ministry has many forms, and I think some of our best minds, our best students, should think about going into the church because it’s actually more challenging to have to work with people who have problems, than simply working with books and arguments. It takes a lot out of a person to work with people and do theology, but that is…that is what the church is about. So I’ve been privileged more recently to be able to work with an organization called the “Center for Pastor Theologians,” and this is made up of people who, I guess, have not yet made their minds up.—

[SOFT LAUGHTER]

—That’s not…that’s a joke, actually.—

Knight
Yes, yes.

Vanhoozer
—They’re committed pastors, for the most part, who want to reclaim the vocation of theology for their own ministries, and, in particular, the “Center” is motivated by what they see the “ecclesial anemia” in the academy and the “theological amnesia” in the church is. Those are the categories they often use. So, many of the people in the CPT are pastors with PhDs, who want to do theology in the church, for the church. And, the…what they also emphasize is, just “location” makes a difference. You’re going to be asking different kinds of questions in the context of the church than you might in the context of the academy. So, much of what I want to do is…is to try to tear down the dividing wall of either indifference or hostility that often separate the academy and the church.

Knight
I’m so glad. I mean, I imagine—I hope—that that resonates with a lot of people around Trinity, since that’s something that we have perceived to be a unique part about what we’re trying to do, is bring those two things together, but I’m grateful that you have done so so articulately and so publicly so we can all watch and see what patterns you put into place and how you talk about things so that we can all cultivate that. In fact, James and I noticed that in the preface to your book, you mention that you’ve taken up an academic practice of writing one book for the academy and one book for the church. Is that right?

Vanhoozer
have that policy in mind. Sometimes—you know, I’m not a legalist about it—

Knight
Of course.

Vanhoozer
—so…so if you count up the books, it may not be exactly 50/50—and certainly chronologically it doesn’t always work out that way—but… I have always wanted to have a ministry in both camps and I think they feed into one another in a helpful way.

Knight
Okay, cool. Very cool.

Arcadi
What, I mean…what kinds of questions have you pursued that have had to come from the practical engagement—or the church side—as opposed to just the academic questions that might come that lead you to an academic study? Have there been particular things that have animated you about what’s going on in the church that have led you to particular forms of research?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, that’s a good question. Uh, the CPT has a bulletin of ecclesial theology, and I look at that and I do ask myself, you know, “Do I feel these issues as the burning issues for my context?” And I often do. I think the basic one, though, is simply reading Scripture. You know, what’s…what’s the difference between reading Scripture in the academy and reading it in the church—and that fits in with my longtime interest in this question—what does it mean to be “Biblical”?

Knight
Yeah, yeah. My students and I were working through that this morning in our Old Testament theology class. We have been, uh, reading through some feminist theologians, some liberation theologians—people who are very comfortable talking about how indebted they are to their context in the way that they construct their theology—and we’ve been struggling through a lot of different hermeneutical questions about what it looks like to recognize the readers’ “embeddedness” while also seeking some sort of authorial message through Scripture that, of course, bears its own authority. And so, they have constantly been struggling with this idea of, “What does it look like to…to read Scripture in a particular context, to address and construct theological systems that help particular cultures, while being faithful to Scripture?” And, it strikes me that in a Protestant setting, that has a whole host of challenges. But yes, talk to me about how systematic theology is uniquely designed to help us navigate this particular cultural “embeddedness”?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, so there are many ways to talk about systematic theology and the difference between biblical studies—again, that’s not a dichotomy I want to overdo

Knight
Sure.

Vanhoozer
—because I think, as I’ve already said, I see myself as a reader of Scripture and…I don’t…I don’t like particularly the suggestion that somehow I’m farther away from the Bible than other of my colleagues—I just relate to it differently.

Knight
Yeah, that’s a helpful way of putting it.

Vanhoozer
But, so in my classes, though, I have been very aware over the years that some students probably come into a systematic theology class because they have to—that’s required—and they’re probably wondering or saying to themselves, “What I really want is a course that would be more practical and more relevant for my ministry.” So from day one, I feel that I have to…be a cheerleader for my discipline, but also the burden is on me to show them that there is a connection with real-life ministry questions. And, I think to be a disciple is to require systematic theology because to be a disciple means, “How do I follow the word of God in this new context?” That is, “What does it mean in this context? How do I live it out in this new context?” The Bible doesn’t talk about bioethics or, you know, the Bible isn’t aware of some of the philosophies out there like postmodernity. How do I do discipleship today? To me, that’s why we need systematic theology. And, it’s why I’ve also been drawn in my writing and teaching to a theatrical model because we have one Scripture, one Gospel, one God. It’s the same story that’s being lived out, but the cultural scenery has changed—

Arcadi
Yeah.

Vanhoozer
—sometimes dramatically, and it’s the biblical story we want to live out, but we have to live it out—and the costumes are different, as I said, the scenery is different, the background is different, the setting is different—so how do we do that? And, I found the theatrical model or framework conducive to answering that question.

Knight
Yeah.

Arcadi
Yeah, that’s really helpful, Kevin, and I appreciate that that in some ways helps to illuminate a bit this kind of two-pronged approach of, “How do you read Scripture and read the culture?” And then, with that third of it, “How do you then live that out?” I was sort of curious, reading through Hearers and Doers about the role that the tradition plays, or maybe even thinking about it theatrically—prior presentations of the storyline, so to speak—how do you see the Christian tradition as part of this “fitting in” with reading Scripture and reading the present culture?

Vanhoozer
So, just to use the theatrical analogy for a moment. So, take something like a Shakespeare play like King Lear. It’s a great play. Our world is very different from the original setting, of course, but if we want to find out how to “do” or how to perform King Lear for today, sometimes it helps to look at great performances from the past, because, we’re not the first people to have performed the play. Similarly, with regard to Scripture, it helps to look at great performances of the past, and what did they see and what can we learn from, say, the way that Athanasius dealt with his problems and Luther dealt with his? Because we aren’t the first people to try to live out the story, there’s much that we can learn from these—what I call, “Masterpiece Theater”—you know, the performances that are not only timely for their own moment, but they were so insightful that they have a perennial significance, and they might have even started a tradition of performing it in a particular way.

Arcadi
How much, um, I don’t know…“authority” is kind of a tricky word, but how much authority should those prior performances have on our present “performances”—to keep using that illustration?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, that’s a great question.

Knight
[LAUGHS]

Vanhoozer
I mean…Protestants affirm sola scriptura, as do I, but…when the reformers said sola scriptura—“Scripture alone”—they never meant that Scripture was the only source of theology, they never wanted to rule out using a Greek concordance or a confession of faith, for that matter. I think sola scriptura means that the Bible is the only supreme authority—there can only be one “alpha” authority, but there are lots of “betas”—there are a lot of “secondary” authorities—and I think tradition has a kind of “secondary”—or what I would call “ministerial authority.” The reformers themselves looked back to the church fathers as having “ministerial authority” because they recognize that many of these church fathers were, in the main, very faithful expositors of Scriptures themselves. So, I affirm sola scriptura, but I’ve always liked Bernard Ramm’s idea that there’s a pattern of authority, even in Protestantism. So, we know all authority has been given to Jesus, but we also know Jesus commissioned witnesses—His apostles—and so we speak of the apostolic tradition that’s in the New Testament. And then, we also know that the Risen Christ gave gifts to the church to guide it, including pastors and teachers—this is Ephesians 4—and so it would be silly not to make use of these means of grace, as it were, to guide us. It’s a little bit, you know, every person who tries to read the Bible is a little bit like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, who says, “How can I understand what I’m reading unless someone guides me?”—and Phillip was sent by the spirit in that case, but since then, I think the Spirit—and the Risen Christ—have given other gifts to the church. And so, that’s how I see many of the major Protestant traditions; their gifts to the church. They’re not necessarily—no one tradition, in my view, has a monopoly on the right reading of Scripture—

Knight
Sure.

Vanhoozer
—but I view them as “ministerial authorities,” as gifts. And, I think together I would want to say that as a Protestant, the great tradition is a Catholic tradition—that is, the “consensus tradition” of the church over space and time—that matters to me as a Protestant, and my only caveat as a Protestant is that I don’t want to narrow “catholicity” to Rome. So, I prefer to speak not of “Roman,” but of “reforming” catholicity of an emerging consensus about what Scripture means, but it’s always under the authority of Scripture.”

Arcadi
Do you mean “emerging” as in, like, “continuing to emerge now,” or that “had emerged at some point,” say, in the 16th century, or what have you?

Vanhoozer
Well, it’s still emerging in a sense, because we have new questions we have to pose to the text, so it doesn’t mean that the “old” is somehow no longer relevant or that we’ve changed in substance—what they came to—but, just as they had to wrestle through questions and then came to definitive answers, the Church today is wrestling with questions, but not always coming to definitive answers. It’s harder to get “catholicity” these days.

Arcadi
If you don’t mind, just if I can stay on this point for a quick second, because I’ve run into this conversation with some of our students who come from somewhat “tradition-less” Evangelical backgrounds, and they sort of catch a glimpse, or catch a picture, of the utility—the “ministerial authority”—that the tradition has and they desire to locate themselves—ecclesially or theologically—in one of these traditions, but then they don’t quite know how to adjudicate between these various, you know, “competitors,” say Methodism versus Presbyterianism or Lutheranism versus Congregationalism, or what have you, on a whole plethora of issues. Do you have, like, you know, advice for how to find yourself or how to locate yourself in one of these, maybe one of these Protestant traditions?

Vanhoozer
Well, I resonate with your diagnosis. I have met these same students who, when they are exposed to traditions, they resonate with the idea. I’ve also compared traditions to “homes,” because at its best, the “tradition” is a nurturing place, and you can learn from a father and a mother and big brothers and big sisters—all sorts of things. And that’s what a tradition does, I think, for a young Christian, but it’s very difficult to be put in the position of a consumer, where you have to choose your home.—

Knight
Yeah.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Vanhoozer
So, I think what I would try to do is ask the student to go over his or her history and see if there might be something that would make a decision to go this way rather than that—other than arbitrary. I don’t know that I would want to “spin the wheel,” simply as if it were a lottery, but if there were a relative in a church, or, you know, maybe just a church in one’s hometown—something that would make the decision less than arbitrary—I think would be helpful—

Knight
Yeah, that’s helpful.

Vanhoozer
—but, I also recognize that sometimes you have to visit homes, and it’s okay to, you know, go up and down the neighborhood and see who serves the meal that, you know, is attracting you the most.

  1. Arcadi
    S. Lewis has a great little illustration in the beginning of “Mere Christianity,” about the various “rooms in the house” of Christianity, so to speak, and that seems like an apt picture for how some, uh, go about this process.

Vanhoozer
I go to the library.

[LAUGHTER]

Knight
Of course. Of course. My husband and I went through this experience. I mean, we both grew up in nondenominational churches. I actually grew up in a movement that’s fairly hostile to denominations, and so I kind of came to seminary and was overwhelmed, but also excited about how much guidance someone could have from a particular theological tradition and how it could give me a starting place from which to start constructing my own kind of vision. And I luckily had a professor during my doctoral work who sat down and gave me a sort of “theological counseling” and helped me find—and I think he called it my “theological home”—I think you and he might know each other fairly well—but, that was really helpful to me and I think a lot of students that come to seminary end up needing to go through that kind of movement.

Vanhoozer
Now that I think about it, I went through something myself because my parents tended to go where the best—what they thought the best preaching was, the most biblical preaching—but that means that I was exposed to a number of denominations growing up—

Knight
I bet! Yeah!

Vanhoozer
—as pastors came and went. So it wasn’t until I was an undergraduate that I discovered my own home, as it were—a tradition with which I resonated—simply through reading more than personal contact. I started being grabbed by certain theologians, and then I realized they all belonged to the same tradition, and that’s the one I eventually gravitated towards.

Knight
Yeah. You know, this…this conversation strikes me as very timely, but I find when I’m talking to students in my Old Testament Theology class and other places, they are overwhelmed kind of by their “postmodern moment” and sort of generally just saying, “It feels like all things are equal.” Like, there are people—one of the great things about Trinity is that you run into people from a lot of different traditions, but then you end up saying, “Well, these all can’t be right, because there are moments where they’re mutually exclusive.” But I was sort of, um, I was refreshed in your book when you pointed to the tradition as a place that we can find some of that consensus that we don’t always feel kind of in our present moment, which I thought was very helpful—and I’ve been trying to sell my students on it; we’ll see if it works—but, I do think that—I’ve heard both you and Scott Manetsch talk about just the value there is and recognizing that there has been a fairly consistent voice within Christianity for quite some time.

Vanhoozer
I think you’re right, though, I think the great danger today—because there are so many methods and so many interpretive communities—is either despair or cynicism or indifference, and to me, those were the three “toxins” of our time when it comes to reading the Bible.

Arcadi
Wow.

Knight
Yes, absolutely.

Vanhoozer
Oh also…I should also add “pride” and a kind of “exclusivism” on the other end, right?—

Knight
Yes.

Vanhoozer
—That thinks, “Only my way is right,” but to get that balance right—to avoid being proud on the one hand, which is a deadly sin, but also avoid being slothful, which is also a deadly sin—to get that balance right is difficult, but I do think Trinity is a good place for people to strive to get that balance right.

Knight
Yeah. What does that look like? I mean, I know it’s a place—I’ve heard you, I mean, you’ve written about it being a place of humility, a place of submission. What other kind of descriptors can you give us for what we’re kind of looking for in this place where we’re holding, we’re recognizing, our own fallibility as readers, but also kind of the trustworthiness of the

Scriptures with which we’re coming into contact? What does that look like?

Vanhoozer
Yeah, a couple things. So I think it does depend on making two moves in particular. One is realizing that not all doctrines are created equal. The second, I think, is to become “persons” of interpretive virtue. And this is tough because it’s harder to become a certain kind of person than it is to follow a particular method. We can learn methods by following the steps, but to become a certain kind of person, that means dying to self in some way. But I think, you know, we need people of interpreter virtue who can recognize the fallibility of their confession or tradition, even as they’re “enthusiastic cheerleaders” for that tradition. We can’t become blind to our own blind spots and the fact that we have them, so at least those two things.

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Knight
Yeah, that’s super helpful. I really want to talk about this all day—

Arcadi
[LAUGHS]

Knight
—but, we don’t have all the time in the world. With that, we’ll probably wrap up our time with you. Kevin, we are sograteful that you took the time to chat with us—to chat with our listeners—we look forward to having you on the show again sometime, hopefully—we have a lot more to talk about. [LAUGHS]

Vanhoozer
It was a pleasure! Thanks for your hospitality!

Knight
Yes, thank you!

Arcadi
Thanks so much, Kevin, we appreciate it.

Vanhoozer
Alright, take care!

Knight
And that’s just the Foreword. If you want to hear a little bit more from Kevin Vanhoozer, we recommend that you pick up his most recent book with Lexham Press, Hearers and Doers:

A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine. You can pick that up on Amazon, or Lexham, or pretty much wherever you want to buy books. We want to thank our guest for coming in, we want to thank our listeners for tuning in, and we definitely want to thank our producer, Curtis Pierce, for all of the hard work he does making this a reality.

I am Michelle Knight.

Arcadi
And I’m James Arcadi.

Knight
Have a great week, everybody.

Outro

Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

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