Because, third, the Bible is unfinished. Christians, together as the people of God, continue to live out the “final, unwritten act of the play” (as N.T. Wright puts it). The future has already come (in miniature) in the death and resurrection of the Messiah; God’s newly reconstituted people, Jews and Gentiles, live out that future in the present as the vanguard of the coming kingdom. This will call for improvisation both formed by the Bible and moved “beyond” it. Not “beyond” in the modern sense of “progress,” but rather so constituted and shaped by the witness of God’s true story in Scripture that truly new things happen. This comes about because God is the God who does new things, and because his Spirit is the witness, advocate, and guide for the church; no interpretation or reading can be divorced from the leading of the Spirit.
Eugene Peterson offers the wonderful image of what formation by Scripture ought to look like in his Eat This Book. We take the Bible into ourselves, communally and individually, chew on it, digest it, receive nourishment (and possibly indigestion!) from it. Importantly, in the context of the metaphor, we usually do not eat alone. Sometimes we do, but food is meant for fellowship—and the same for Scripture. Not all are literate; not all literates can read the Bible; and, as Stanley Hauerwas would remind us, each individual, beginning at age 12, reading his or her Bible alone in a room, divorced from the virtuous habits of the church as well as from the authority of its tradition, is a recipe for a disaster—one that already happened in the terrible tragedy of the denominationalism following the Reformation.
As someone belonging to a tradition called Restoration, I both know intimately the tragedy of which he speaks and the power of the formation he demands. I was raised in a church of Christ that trained me in what it meant to be part of a community that claimed the status of “family” over any other; that cared for every single member in any situation; that worshiped and learned and ate and laughed together every week of every month of every year; that heard and read and memorized and ate the words of Scripture with a ferocity of hunger wonderfully inimitable; that called its young people to leadership and faith and discipleship from day one. Before I ever met the works of Hauerwas, Yoder, Wright, Hays, or anyone else, I knew their "daring" ecclesiology because I grew up not knowing it was odd or unique—only that it was that holiest word for us: biblical.