Lately Christian scholars have become infatuated with hermeneutics, and context, but it must be remembered that Heaven was full of saints long before this type of scholarly pride. The new thing today among Pastors is the old saw that believers cannot understand their Bible without help. It is now taught in seminary—this is not something that unbelievers did to Christians—the pride of knowledge of our own threw away the most precious gift we own.
In this next quote from Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, it is not the unbelievers that create the most doubt—it has been the scholar and the pastor—including himself at one time in his life.
For more than fifteen hundred years the authority and authenticity of the Bible as the infallibly inspired Word of God was a fixed and uncontested belief of the Christian church. The widespread departure from this position in the modern era is symptomatic of the abandonment by many of the distinctive teaching of Christ and His apostles, and this development is responsible for the present ecclesiastical crisis of authority.[i]
This was a lesson that P. T. Forsyth, himself an academic and an expert, had to learn. Once he learned it, the whole thrust of his theological perception was reshaped.
The authority of the Bible [he wrote] speaks not to the critical faculty that handles evidence but to the soul that makes response.[ii]
In the hands of the humble, hermeneutics is neither a hammer nor a halo, context is neither clarity nor confusion, and metaphor is not mush or mystical, but they are misused—why—pride. The hermeneutical method is not new or reserved for scripture. It has been used throughout history to study the writings of all authors, but especially historical writers. The Bible is the history of God’s work. Again I will say, Heaven is filled with saints that never heard of, seen, or read an academic—in fact, most saints today and in all the ages past.
Re 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousand…
The question of inventive interpretation is more the purview of Pastors and scholars than the laymen. It is either literal or allegory, and regardless of the cleverness of the argument there really are only two options. The allegorical method may be traced back to Greek intellectualism, and modern intellectualism only proves that there is nothing new in the new age.
The principle behind the allegorizing method is nonetheless a pernicious one. It presupposes that under the surface of the text, hidden from the sight of the multitude, there lies a profound “spiritual” sense that only the expert is capable of discerning. This inevitably fosters an attitude of disdain and disregard for the plain, natural sense of the text and reduces the Bible to a book of intellectual word puzzles. It also leads to the spinning out of exegesis of the most elaborate and fantastic character that is as unedifying as it is fanciful. And, worst of all, it has the effect of taking the Bible out of the hands of the common people and making it the preserve of inventive academics.[iii]
[i] Carson, D. A., & Woodbridge, J. D. (1992). Scripture and truth (p. 177). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[ii] Carson, D. A., & Woodbridge, J. D. (1992). Scripture and truth (p. 176). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[iii] Carson, D. A., & Woodbridge, J. D. (1992). Scripture and truth (p. 187). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Published on Monday, August 3, 2015 @ 4:07 AM CDT