Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coming Clean on Hermeneutics

For years I have been arguing that Paul and the NT authors read the OT like a charismatic rather than a scholar, evangelical or fundamentalist. I've done this to legitimate the "reader-response" approach that most people use when reading Scripture.  I've called it other things: a "spiritual" reading, a "devotional" reading.

I've not changed my mind, that the Spirit is not and has never been limited by the original meaning of the biblical text.  God can speak truth to you through the words of Scripture even if you are completely mistaken about what those words really meant.  Accordingly, I believe the vast numbers of sermons every Sunday morning that proclaim truths that aren't really what the biblical text was about are still the word of God when God is speaking through the speaker.

But I'm going to come clean.  This is second best for me.  The best of all possible worlds is actually to understand the biblical text and to feel the freedom of the Spirit in preaching. 

The best of all possible worlds is actually to know what you're talking about rather than simply relying on the possibility that the Spirit can speak truth despite our ignorance.  The best of all possible words is to be relevant and knowledgeable.  

Mind you, I think true relevance is more important than true understanding.  I'd rather a pastor speak relevant truth to a congregation than for a pastor to know the biblical languages and say nothing of any import at all.  I don't even consider that preaching.  I agree with Craddock--a sermon without an address is not really a sermon.

But that's not an endorsement of ignorance.  I would rather a preacher both know the real biblical text (the Greek and Hebrew one) and speak with relevance to a congregation.

There, I've come clean...


David Drury said...

Your confession has been heard. I absolve thee.

Martin LaBar said...

Clean, it is.

Craig L. Adams said...

Preachers have to say something every week. There's the difficulty. Sometimes things come together sometimes they don't. It's important to care about people, to keep praying and seeking God, and to remain in dialog with Scripture. You do the best you can. Ultimately, you have to trust God with the results.

Martin LaBar said...

Surely it is true that the Holy Spirit can use the Bible, even though gravely distorted by us. But Satan also can use scripture. Perhaps it's easier for him to use distorted scripture.

mitch olson said...

The great thing is we can ALL "come clean". We've been WASHED in the blood. Therefore our message can be DIPPED in the fountain. It is TRANSLATED for the listener through the allos parakletos. And is SEALED by the King.
We have the responsibility to do the homework, and God will grade our papers. James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brother, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.