Thursday, November 09, 2006

Inerrancy: Legitimate Hermeneutics

Last night after teacher’s community at church I ran into some guys going to the leadership development classes on biblical interpretation. They were talking about the articles they had to read. One of which was Legitimate Hermeneutics by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. This was one of the first things we had to read for Systematic Theology I, so I thought I’d post a few quick quotes from the article!
“All of our own notions of truth and principle must be set aside in favor of those the sacred writers taught if we are to be valid interpreters (pp. 119).”

General Points on Hermeneutics:
(1) The Bible is to Be Interpreted by the Same Rules as Other Books (pp. 119-120).
(2) The Principles of Interpretation Are as Native and Universal to Man as Is Speech Itself (pp. 120-122).
(3) My Personal Reception and Application of an Author’s Words Is a Distinct and Secondary Act From the Need First to Understand His Work (pp. 122-123).

5 Principal By-passes used by various interpreters of Scripture to escape the three basic rules…:
(1) Allegorical interpretation
(2) Overdependence on the principle of “progressive revelation”
(3) Improper use of the principle of the “perspicuity of Scripture”
(4) Unfair appropriation of the alleged freedom with which the New Testament writers cite the Old Testament.
(5) Appeal to the implied presence of a dual sense in the messianic predictions of the Old Testament (pp. 125).

“The Situation here is exactly as it is with grammars and dictionaries; they do not prescribe what a language must do; they only describe how its best speakers and writers use it. So it is with hermeneutics (pp. 121)”

“Paul’s word cannot be used to claim that people without the Spirit do not understand any part of the Bible until they become spiritual (pp. 123).”

“No less vulnerable is much present-day evangelical preaching and teaching, which is often superficial and frothy, because of failure to spend enough time with the text and to patiently hear what it is saying first-rather than out of any overt embarrassment about the literal claims of an allegedly defunct Scripture. This method of sermonizing opens up an easy path – particularly for quick, adroit, fanciful, but lazy minds who, under pretense of truth and righteousness, teach what they will from where they will in Scripture. Fortunately for the church, little immediate harm is done in most cases (other than teaching poor methodology and starving God’s people from the full counsel of God). Most evangelical practitioners of this method merely “gather wool” from various passages and then import the ideas into unnatural biblical contexts (pp. 126) [my emphasis].”

“…therefore…the so-called “literal” interpretation must include the same depth of meaning as the writer himself included (pp. 127)”

“…perspicuity means simply that the Bible is sufficiently clear in and of itself for believers to understand it (pp. 128).”

“…our generation needs a whole new hermeneutical reformation. The current crisis regarding the doctrine of Scripture is directly linked to poor procedures and methods of handling Scripture… As a partial corrective for this astonishing situation, I urge that talk about the Bible be modified to this extent: that evangelicals in particular get equally busy identifying the meaning of the text itself – the meaning the original writer of Scripture intended – before we go on to name the relationships between that meaning and ourselves, our country, our day, and our conception of things; that is, before we consider the significance of the text for us (pp. 147).”

[Editor and contributor: Geisler, Norman L. Inerrancy pp. 116-147 article Legitimate Hermeneutics by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. 1980 Zondervan; Grand Rapids, MI.]

There’s a ton more to this article. And even though I’ve read it I repent for not always teaching hermeneutically [leading the people in good hermeneutics] as I have studied the Word in preparation for the lesson. This is a good reminder to me!

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