The Comprehensive Hermeneutic

It’s time for the war between the old hermeneutic and the new hermeneutic to end.

If you’re not familiar with the terms, the old hermeneutic sees everything in the Bible in the light of command, example or necessary inference. The new hermeneutic sees everything in the Bible in the light of narrative, story, God’s nature and purpose.

The plain fact is, we need both.

Don’t use the old hermeneutic to try to make the Song of Solomon into a prophetic allegory of the love of Christ for His church. It ain’t there.

Don’t use the new hermeneutic to try to explain away God’s justice as expressed in the Law as obsolete under the reign of Christ. He’s still just, and judgment will take place – no matter how much He loves us.

There are times when the old hermeneutic is still indispensible. Don’t make fun of it. Don’t abandon it.

There are times when the new hermeneutic is revealing and enlightening. Don’t trash it. Don’t exclude it.

Because those hermeneutics are the result of our individual preference for approaching not only God’s word, but every other gift of His in this world. We see things primarily rationally, or primarily emotionally. But sometimes – especially when it comes to Biblical interpretation – we go to extremes. If we exclude emotional approaches, we become heartless. If we exclude logical approaches, we become brainless.

The two hermeneutics work together, you see.

Logic alone can fail us – often because of emotional biases. The same scripture can logically lead two people to polar-opposite conclusions. That’s the time to re-examine it in light of all other scripture, with a comprehensive view of God’s loving AND just nature.

Emotions alone can fail us – often because our logic is faulty. Two people can see the same scripture as each wants to, with an unscriptural conclusion that God is only about love or only about judgment. That’s the time to re-examine that scripture illuminated by the whole of God’s word and the revelation of His kindness AND His severity.

And if, overarching both hermeneutics, there is not a recognition of God’s desire for us to be reconciled to Him, to be one in Spirit and purpose, to let Him do the legislating and judging … then we’ve just plain missed the point.

What point?

The point He gave us that Word to “get.”

The point we are to live for each day and each moment.

The point His Son lived and died and lived again in order to get across to us.

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8 thoughts on “The Comprehensive Hermeneutic

  1. Thank you, Keith. This is timely, helping me verbalize something that I felt but couldn’t express as well as you. As always, you bless me.

  2. Y’all are a great encouragment to me – especially when I go out on a limb and start sawin’ behind myself like this. Thanks – and blessings!

  3. Hermeuetics are an important set of tools (of many, many tool) we use in order to discern truth. We use hammers when we see nails. We use a drill when we see screws. We use a sander when the edges are rough and need to be smooth. We selected finer grained sandpapers to get increasingly smoother surfaces. You can’t get that screw to fasten anything together with 1000 grain sandpaper. The problem, as Keith has pointed out, is using the wrong tool for the wrong purpose.

  4. Fajita, the “tool” metaphor strikes me as especially apt for hermeneutics.Sounds like something a carpenter would come up with, in fact!

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