“Allegorism is the method of interpreting a literary text that regards the literal sense as the vehicle for a secondary, more spiritual and more profound sense.”[i]
The dangers of the allegorical method: The dangers of the allegorical method should be obvious to most readers. Fritsch notes the inevitable consequences: “the literal and historical sense of Scripture is completely ignored, and every word and event is made an allegory of some kind either to escape theological difficulties or to maintain certain peculiar religious views …” J. Dwight Pentecost expresses the same concern, pointing out that this has the potential to “pervert the true meaning of Scripture … under the guise of seeking a deeper or more spiritual meaning.” Pentecost further states: “The allegorical method, which depends on the rationalistic approach of the interpreter, or conformity to a predetermined theological system, leaves one without a basic authoritative test.”
Terry warns that this “give[s] wing to all manner of fanciful speculation. It does not draw out the legitimate meaning of an author’s language, but foists into it whatever the whim or fancy of an interpreter may desire.” Angus-Green agree: “There is … unlimited scope for fancy … in the mind of the expositor.”159 Ramm says that accepting this “second-sense meaning” of the Bible, and thereby adopting such a “spiritualizing” method of interpretation, “is to open the door to almost uncontrolled speculation and imagination.”
J. Dwight Pentecost points out the inevitable second danger to which this error leads: “the basic authority in interpretation ceases to be the Scriptures, but the mind of the interpreter.” Farrar concurs, stating that this undermining of the Bible’s authority would “corrupt the meaning of Scripture …, making Scriptural mysteries out of our own imaginations.”
The result of the allegorical method: Those who adopt this method of interpretation are left with a Bible that has been “reduced … to what seems reasonable to the interpreter, and, as a result, makes true interpretation of Scripture impossible.” Karleen notes: “In allegorical interpretation it is quite easy to impose any preconceptions on Scripture, since the most evident meaning is tossed aside in favor of one that is actually arrived at subjectively.” This puts the reader in a very vulnerable position, since he can be sure of absolutely nothing.
[i] Trahan, K. (2007). A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy (97–98). Port Neches, TX: Disciple of Jesus Ministries, Inc.
Published on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 @ 7:15 AM CDT