"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Speaking of Hermenuetics

There's a great post on Sola Scriptura over at the Pilgrim People blog by Michael Brown (HT: R. Scott Clark). One of the struggles I've had is how to approach the Scriptures recognizing both that the Holy Spirit is my greatest teacher, but that there is a rich history of His having taught others. I think to divorce ourselves from 2000 years of Church history is a categorical mistake.

If we make this mistake, we will pay a steep price. Brown notes:
Oddly enough, this kind of dismissal of historic theology actually does violence to Christ’s promise to his Apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (Jn 16.13) and bring to their remembrance all things (Jn 14.26) in order that Scripture would be preserved for the instruction of the church until the end of the age (Mt 24.35; 28.20). The early-American biblicists seemed to give no credit at all to the Holy Spirit’s work in history of gifting Christ’s church with pastors and teachers; rather, the early-American biblicists see the Spirit’s true work in ministry being that of immediate revelation and privatized religion. Ironically, the biblicists’ seeking of direct revelation and a “tabula rasa” illumination compromises their claim of “no creed but the Bible,” as one's personal experience is inevitably elevated to the place of Scripture.

Tragically, however, things have not changed for the better. As Hatch chillingly points out, “Americans continue to maintain their right to shape their own faith and to submit to leaders they have chosen.” The result of eighteenth and nineteenth century biblicism has been a church that increasingly looks less like New Testament Christianity and more like the egalitarian culture in which she lives. Populist hermeneutics and privatized, experiential religion has continuously had wide appeal to the American individualistic ethos. The “chronological arrogance,” to borrow C.S. Lewis’ maxim, of disparaging tradition and centuries of theologizing persists with cavalier vigor.

Hebrews 11 reminds us that we stand in a long line of those who have walked with God. That line does not stop with the closing of the canon but continues on even today. The Bible makes it clear that none of these are without fault, and therefore are not the primary resource. But they are faithful men who have passed truth on to other faithful men, eventually down to us. So while the Bible is always the final authority, my interpretation is not. I must always check my own biases by testing my interpretation against those who have come before and are contemporary with me.

What say you?

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Blogger Miguel said...

You touched upon the unique vision that is both pnuematological and ecclesiological. They are inseparable. The work of the Spirit is expressibly manifest in the church itself. The formation of the actual scriptural text was one that was developed, created in the community of God's people with the Holy Spirits involvement. Theology, is the dialogue between the church (historical/local and even global at times) in the text of scripture with the Spirit of God.

I am reminded of Stan Grenz and John Franke's collaborative work, "Beyond Foundationalism" wherein they define scripture as the "norming norm" of theology and tradition as "theologies hermenuetical trajectory".

Good word.

11:47 PM EST  
Blogger Miguel said...

Eddie, McKnight is discussing Os' Civility.

Check it out...


9:19 AM EST  

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