Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hermeneutics remains the only question in town

Dan Kirk offers a list of what he feels are the big issues being discussed at the moment on Christian blogs.  You'll need to read his post for a full description but in short:

  1. The Gospel.
  2. Human origins after evolution.
  3. Gender in the church. 
A couple of his commenters also suggest that conversations around inerrancy and the nature of scripture deserve to be on that list as well.  Inerrancy has certainly been a hot topic this year.  While inerrancy could certainly be a #4 on that list (and creationism #5 and homosexuality #6), each one of these issues and the conflicts that they generate stem from the way we read the Bible and the interpretive decisions that we make. These issues are really only test cases for the hermeneutics that generate the readings of scripture that are being defended or attacked.  The only really important question is How do you read scripture?, after that the outcomes of those other debates are more or less determined.

The problem is, of course, that if scripture is our standard but we have to interpret scripture one way or another (ruling out of court the idea that such things are just plain obvious - because obviously they are not to everyone!), then what is to stop our interpretations of scripture being totally arbitrary?  The answer, I think, is to be found in scripture itself as many books of scripture interpret other books of scripture and thus in scripture itself we are offered examples of legitimate interpretation.  It is possible to read the last 61 books of scripture as a commentary on the first 5, and perhaps until we we do that - and study the other ways in which scripture interacts with scripture, our own commentary on the rest will be doomed to the frustration of our own blinkered biases.

Let me know what you think :-)

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