“At the heart of scripture the prophetic word becomes the Incarnate Word. At the heart of scripture is the fire of God’s presence, of God’s gift perfectly given and perfectly received in Jesus Christ. We need to read the Bible, as is often said, around Christ, and read it, therefore, in the confidence that our own mishearing and misapprehending, our own confusions and uncertainties about the text and about the matter with which it deals, are going to be part of God’s triumphant work in us. Through the encounter and the contest we may trust that God will be victorious. At the end of the night we shall learn his name as he touches us, because we know that scripture turns upon Christ in whom all texts are finally fulfilled, in the sense that there is in him no misapprehension, no distorting by sin of the gift of God.
Now reading the Bible around Jesus, with all that in mind, is by no means easy and, as we know all too well, in the Church it can lead to endless squabbles and bitterness. We do not know how to read certain passages: we do not know how to deal properly with Paul in his most rampantly masculine moods; we do not know how to deal with some texts of sexuality; we do not know how to cope with some of the violence of so much Hebrew scripture. We say the psalms each day and quite often find ourselves wishing unspeakable plagues on our enemies. All the time we need to remember what kind of humanity it is in which, to which and through which God speaks: a broken humanity, a humanity badly equipped to receive God’s liberty. Yet we can recognise this not simply with resignation or cynicism. We do not read the Bible just as a record of the crimes and follies of mankind, to paraphrase Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but as a record of how those crimes and follies are drawn together and plaited into a strong rope, drawn together and unified in the Word made flesh. As the text of encounter and contest is fulfilled in our own struggles, so we pray that the culmination of that text, the Word Incarnate, may triumph in each one of us, in our reading, in our praying and in our living.”
(Rowan Williams, Open to Judgement (DLT:1994), pp.159-60)