Saturday, March 06, 2010

Conclusion of Paper

This was the bulk of the conclusion of the paper, which I gave yesterday.
We have aimed to describe what is actually the case in the way Christians use Scripture. It is actually the case that the individual texts of the Bible had particular original meanings in their own contexts that were overwhelmingly a function of the language games of their day. It is actually the case that the unified perspective from which Christians read Scripture developed over time in Christian history. These would seem to be unavoidable realities, even if a good deal of intellectual energy has been devoted to denying them.

If we wish to conceptualize a Christian hermeneutic that is coherent, we thus need to take these things fully into account. I can think of no way to do so other than the general schema I presented in the introduction, namely, 1) to consider the individual texts of the canon as points in a flow of revelation, genuine points of partial revelation in a progressive flow and 2) to consider the consensus of faith that the Holy Spirit unfolded in the Church as the appropriate vantage point from which to read these texts as a unified whole with a unified Christian message. The postmodern attention to the polyvalence of language proves to bolster and indeed justify this hermeneutic.

This approach is not specifically Wesleyan, of course. I am suggesting it is the only way to have a coherent Christian hermeneutic per se, let alone a Wesleyan one. But I close with two ways in which these developments cohere well with the Wesleyan-revivalist tradition. First, pneumatic interpretation is not foreign to us revivalists. The charismatic use of Scripture, long scorned by the well informed, turns out to have the imprimatur of New Testament interpretation itself. Secondly, there is great potential in Vanhoozer’s sense of Scripture as performative, a drama for the people of God to perform. There is great Wesleyan potential in a view of Scripture as a whole that sees its primary purpose as the formation of a holy people, that is, discipleship.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Leadership created the 'vision' (social construction through historically rooted myth). And tradition followed, as well as the whole of the Christina Church via the Chruch Fathers.

Since Wesleyans have been for the "underdog", as they are more naturalistic in thier understanding of Scripture, then, of course they would be open to all of the "underdog's interpretations" via post-modernity.

John Hobbins said...


Lots to appreciate in your approach. I interact it with your conclusions in connection with reflections of my own here: