Historical Criticism and Fundamentalism- two sides of the same coin:
"Tragically, many of us are trying to preach without scripture and to interpret scripture without the church. Fundamentalist biblical interpretation and higher criticism of the Bible are often two sides of the same coin. The fundamentalist interpreter has roots in the Scottish Common Sense school of philosophy (fundamentalism is such a modernist heresy), which asserted that propositions are accessible to any thinking, rational person. Any rational person ought to be able to see the common sense of the assertion that God created the heavens and the earth. A Christian preacher merely has to assert these propositions, which, because they are true, are understandable to anybody with common sense.
This historical-critical method denies the fundamentalist claim. Scripture, higher-criticism asserts, is the result of a long historical process. One must therefore apply sophisticated rules and tools of historical analysis to a given biblical text, because one cannot understand the text without understanding its true context. Presumably, anybody who applies the correct historical tools will be able to understand the text.
Both the fundamentalist and the higher critic assume that it is possible to understand the biblical text without training, without moral transformation, without the confession and forgiveness that come about within the church. Unconsciously, both means of interpretation try to make everyone religious (that is, able to understand and appropriate scripture) without everyone's being a member of the community for which the Bible is scripture. Perhaps the recent enthusiasm for so-called inductive preaching- preaching that attempts to communicate the gospel indirectly, inductively through stories rather than through logical, deductive reasoning- is an attempt to understand scripture without being in the church. Inductive preaching presents the gospel in a way that enables everyone to "make up his or her own mind." But we suspect that scripture wonders if we have a mind worth making up! Minds worth making up are those with critical intelligence, minds trained to judge the true from the false on the basis of something more substantial than their own, personal subjectivism." (pg.163-164)
Theology and Ethics:
"Not that we are much better off in our seminary courses in theology and ethics. There we are introduced to assorted theories of moral rationality and justification. We debate whether or not a deontological or a teleological ethic is to be preferred; or what is the correct understanding of love and justice. Christian ethics and theology are reduced to intellectual dilemmas, schemes of typology rather than an account of how the church practically discusses what it ought to be. The situation is aggravated as contemporary theologians and ethicists write for other theologians and ethicists rather than for those in ministry. Which helps explain why those in ministry read fewer and fewer books on theology and ethics. It also explains why he have the new discipline of "practical theology," which is supposed to translate academic theology into something usable. Theology, to be Christian, is by definition practical. Either it serves the formation of the church or it is trivial and inconsequential. Preachers are the acid test of theology that would be Christian. Alas, too much theology today seems to have as its goal the convincing of preachers that they are too dumb to understand real theology. Before preachers buy into that assumption, we would like preachers to ask themselves if the problem lies with theologies which have become inconsequential." (Pg.164-165)