Slide 1: The Default Hermeneutic
- "God said it; I believe it; that settles it for me."
- Direct application of the text to my life and everyone else's with minimal consideration of context or genre.
- I become the "you" of the text.
- One text from God to me
- "Common sense" and ingenuity navigates "naughty verses"
- It works if we have the Holy Spirit guiding us and if we have the right Christian intuitions, the right "common sense."
- The right common sense is the law of love and the rule of faith.
- Scripture, tradition, reason, experience (post-liberal Methodists tend to hate it, post-fundamentalist Wesleyans like me love it)
- Imbalances of experience: Pentecostal traditions can come to focus too much on “words from the Lord” without sufficient anchoring. But the Holy Spirit does seem to speak to people today in other ways than through Scripture.
- Imbalances of reason: Liberal traditions can focus so much on the historical meaning of the books of the Bible that they become a dead, dissected frog from the past, a matter of antiquarian interest. So the Bible is not merely history, but it happened in history, and it also seems problematic to think we can suspend normal historical inquiry.
- Imbalances of tradition: A lot of bizarre traditions have spun out over time. Luther pruned a number and sent us back ad fontes. But do we really want to rehash the Trinity or, for that matter, which books belong in the New Testament?
- Imbalances of Scripture: The idea of "Scripture only" is ultimately unreflective. To decide what the Bible means, you need "rules of engagement" that, de re, are outside the text. But Scripture is a God-instituted sacrament of transformation. It is the focal unpacking of Jesus, who is the final Word.
- Is anti-modern. It is a reaction against developments in science and history.
- Ironically, however, it uses quasi-scientific and historical methods to combat modernism.
- It tends to be anti-tradition, anti-reason, and anti-experience.
- What did it mean in that time?
- What are the points of continuity and discontinuity between "that time" and "our time"?
- Or, alternatively, what is the "all time" in the "that time"?
- Reapply points of continuity.
- Reapply principles in "our time."
- Recognizes the distance between "that time" and "all time." (positive)
- Accepts historical method, but often only applies it within certain artificial boundaries.
- Can miss the crucial role of integration (formulating a biblical theology before application rather than applying directly from individual passages)
- Can ignore the reality that orthodoxy requires some faith in developments after the NT in order to work fully
- What did it say? (observation)
- What did it mean? (interpretation)
- What does the whole Bible say? (integration)
- What does it mean to us? (appropriation)
2. Do your exegetical work. (What did this text mean originally in context?)
[Exegetical work is quasi-scientific. It is an evidentiary process, even though it cannot be done without assumptions, bias, and presuppositions. By contrast, integration and appropriation are not a science. They are a spiritual task, a community task, and a convictional task. They are an "art."]
3. Ask integration questions
- What does the rest of the Bible (in context) seem to say on this topic?
- Is there a (unforced) common thread throughout the books of the Bible?
- Consider matters of genre.
- If my passage is in the OT, does the NT in any way develop its content?
- How does the person of Jesus and the trajectory of the kingdom impact the topic?
- Is the subject “fully cooked” in Scripture?
- What are the points of contextual continuity and discontinuity between you and the text?
- Are there integration principles you can reapply?
- What has the Spirit said to others, the communion of saints past/present?
- What is the Spirit saying to you?
- Exegetical portion, with intro and conclusion
- Biblical Theology portion (OT/NT, Christ/kingdom lens)
- Appropriation portion (continuity/principles, Spirit, church)