Friday, June 05, 2009

Magisterial Paper by Steve Lennox at Symposium

Steve is in the middle of a tremendous paper on the hermeneutic of 1800s holiness revivalists. It pulls the rug out from under the Hermeneutical Spiral and Vanhoozer's half-way reformation.

This quote from Daniel Steele (1894) is shocking and significant:

"It will not do to lean on the authority of a majority of experts; but on the practical question of the extent of gospel salvation from sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the unlearned minority who have put the doctrine to experimental proof may be very much wiser than the learned majority of the magnates of the modern church, who have never subjected the question of the test of personal experience. Here the testimony of some Uncle Tom or Amanda Smith of the slave plantation may outweigh the opinion of a whole faculty of German theological professors. Experience outweighs theory; faith makes philosophy kick the beam" (Half-Hours with Saint Paul and Other Bible Readings, 239-40).

To read Lennox's paper, go here.


Jared said...

A lot of things outweigh the opinions of German professors.

John Mark said...

There is a review at by Gerard Reed comparing Dunning to Grider in their respective major works. It is interesting to me that Reed sees Dunning as relying heavily on Wesley, and giving very little weight to the AMH theologians, while Grider, of course, respects the AMH movement and its theologians, and, in Reeds view, quotes more extensively or from the Church Fathers. I found this curious in light of Wesley's reliance upon the Fathers. But that was my impression of the review, if I understood Reed. All that to ask this question: Do you see the approach Lennox is advocating as being friendly to a resurrection of respect for the American Holiness Movement-in house? Or is this no longer even a relevant topic?

Craig Moore said...

So now the new standard for Wesleyans of biblical interpretation is "What does this verse mean to me or us?" We have alot of this in the UMC and it has caused quite a division. One part of the church insist the Spirit is leading them in one direction and the other group claims the Spirit is leading them in the opposite direction. Maybe "Entire Sanctification" will give you all the edge over self or group interest when it comes interpreting scripture.

Ken Schenck said...

Not at all (see my Who Decides What the Bible Means?.

There have to be controls. The massive fragmentation of Protestant is the direct result of thinking there are no controls but the text itself. Steve suggests the Rule of Faith and the Rule of Love as the principal controls, which amounts to the consensus of the Church and the application of the love of God and neighbor.

Beyond these basics, however, there is the cautious moving of the Spirit in more localized denominations and, yes, individuals. Are there going to be many instances where these groups are wrong? Absolutely, just as I believe the consensus of the Church went astray some in the Middle Ages.

But there is no other hermeneutical solution. To think otherwise is to fool yourself. There is no solely text-generated solution to what God's will is for today.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

I wasn't able to attend this year, and so I write this with a lot of ignorance (of the discussion and context). But looking through the paper, I fail to see how Lennox "pulled the rug out from under KJV." Indeed, I didn't even see how he *tried* to do so. What am I missing?


Ken Schenck said...

Tom, had to think for a minute what KJV meant (what, King James Version? :-)

You are right that Steve didn't try to pull the rug out from under Vanhoozer. You are right, he actually refers favorably to Vanhoozer in the paper.

First, I believe Vanhoozer himself (and I'd love to hear your impression) has been generally broadening his understanding of meaning since he started writing Is There a Meaning in This Text. I haven't read First Theology or the Divine Drama, but I sense he has been moving more and more toward a recognition that any canonical, whole as divine speech act meaning is the most appropriate Christian meaning even more than individual original meanings.

But unless he's gone all the way, I don't think he has yet admitted that this meaning must of necessity be a different meaning than the original meanings and discontinous in significant ways from the original meanings. Steve did not argue this point, but I believe it follows from his arguments.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ken. Sometime we'll have to talk further about these things (and about the views of my former :-( colleague Kevin).