I love this new term from Slacktivist: “concordance-ism.” It is fantastic.
“Look up eunuch in the whole of the Bible.” That’s white evangelicalism in a nutshell. It’s irrelevant that Wellington Boone is, himself, black. This is the crux of white evangelical biblicism — the white theology that was designed and tailored and mandated in defense of whiteness.
It doesn’t ask us to read the Bible. It asks us to “look up” things in the Bible — to consult the Bible without reading it.
Scot McKnight is working through Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible in a fine series critiquing this standard white evangelical biblicism. But I’m not even sure “biblicism” is the right word. It’s more like Concordance-ism.* A concordance is, after all, the only way to “look up” something “in the whole of the Bible.” (Or you can use the concordance-like search function of an online Bible.)
I would say this is a terrible, terrible way to read the Bible, but, again, it doesn’t actually involve reading the Bible at all. And it often winds up being terribly misleading. Such concordance-driven “word studies” abstract and obscure the meaning of the specific passages they extract from the text and context around them. They obscure more than they reveal — obscuring even the fact that they’re obscuring. The choice of search terms shapes the outcome of the search. And, of course, the whole project is based on the illiterate premise that every relevant passage will include an explicit term labeling it as such.