Saturday, October 1, 2005

this 'verses' that in Biblical interpretation...

A recent conversation on Gil’s blog has got me blogging my own stuff on the topic (Interpretation of Scripture)
So likely this will not make sense unless you read Gil’s blog entry on Hauerwas. So go there and then come back here… (his blog is the professor)

Sure I guess one does discover truth when one encounters God. I should be clear, I am not trying to identify a dichotomy between experience and intellect as a method of interpretation and as I think you may have understood me to say. I will try to refine once more:
1. Humanity will corrupt the interpretation of Scripture in either a community hermeneutic or through one person. People set agendas for power and exclusion (another form of power). Scripture is full of evidence where both systems of understanding God were abused. It really doesn't matter what system you of interpretation you use the potential for error is great. I see Benny Hinn distorting scripture for his own benefit (and it does not take rocket science to figure that one out) and I see that we can’t trust the bishop method of interpretation. Then I look at my church for instance who maybe in a more insidious way develops doctrine designed to exclude people from entrance in the body. So the potential for error is great. Plus look at the Bible – King Saul got it wrong. But then so did many of the churches Paul wrote to in the NT. Sure we can swing back and forth on the pendulum highlighting whatever emphasis we think is needed to correct the errors of the past but…
There are many dangerous questions that start creeping up when we slide in either direction. Just sitting in the middle is not an option either. Maybe it’s really both and.

2. The proposition of knowing what truth is not related to the method we use to interpret this instrument (the Bible). My suggestion is that our concern should be in the nature of truth and how it is tied to the nature of God instead of these methods. So truth is tied to our relationship to a mysterious God. In a sense it is about training our spiritual eyes to recognize the mystery truth – part of it is clues and part of it is gut level instincts. Truth becomes the payoff of the spiritual disciplines – practiced corporately and individually.

Let me comment briefly on a letter found in the MB HERALD
It could be suggested that Richard Loewen’s comments are the negative result of allowing everyone access to the Bible and letting them interpret it for themselves. And he would certainly suggest, although it seems in a very convoluted fashion, that the community that discerned the position that David Wiebe identified as the recommendation for the conference position on women in ministry, has erred in its hermeneutical approach. So we are at an impasse. But for me this letter identifies how we try to use our interpretive methodology as some sort of spiritual one-upmanship. And our convoluted pretense on this issue obviously results mainly in conflict that calls into question each other’s spiritual integrity rather than trying to resolve this issue fairly.
David wants women in and Richard want women out (of ministry) so fine why do we have to question each others spirituality in the process.
Of course we care about this issue but to use terminology as Loewen does with ogres and liars is inflammatory. And in using the words that he does he heightens the tension that exists in this conflict rather than dissipate it. To me there is a higher calling in this particular issue, one that is revealed to through the spiritual disciplines. The higher issue is how we as a body are going to reflect Christ to the world in this.

The other day I had one of my students answer a question I posed like this: “I have a real fascination with the supernatural works of God like speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit.” I wanted to jump out of my skin. “So now this stuff has become a fascination for us?” I thought, “much in the same way space exploration or poker is a fascination?” GREAT! I would say my friend needs to mature in his spiritual understanding – what he does not need is to be belittled for the apparent ignorance of his thinking. If the world ended today I am quite sure that we would both stand in front of God and be really fascinated by all He had done.

To me it is amazing the tools we use to exercise our superiority over each other spiritually. Maybe that was kinda the point of the my thing on coffee...


Clinton said...

Once again you have given me something to chew on and ponder. I appreciate the link to the 'original' discussion to give me context.

I agree, Dale, history has shown us clearly that the mode of interpretation is not the key to an accurate hermeneutic. Scripture has been perversely interpretted by individual and community. It has also been rightly divided in both contexts.

Dissecting the WORD in search of 'truth' does not necessarily coincide with a relational knowledge of God.Even Satan himself quoted scripture in his attempts to tempt Christ.

I believe that something which is paramount to this discussion (and thus far seems to be overlooked) is the communities role in the life of the individual. We like to blame the individual so that we can wash our hands of our responsibility. The call/command to the church and individual to 'make disciples' is something we like to dance around. It's much easier to lead someone in 'the sinner's prayer' and then hand them a Bible than to invest in their life and make a disciple of Christ. For too long the church (in general) has abdicated it's responsibility to make disciples. As a result it has spawned a rash of 'believers' who have not learned to walk with Jesus, who have not learned to talk with Jesus and who have not learned to hear from God Almighty.

Now we see the product of our laziness and we wish to blame those who were never taught to walk for the fact that they are still crawling or at best stumbling clumsily along.

i think

roverT said...

Isn't it interesting that in a discussion about getting "...the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians," all we can talk about is how to interpret Scripture?

Shouldn't we be talking about how the Church can work to change lives? Like what you say Dale "The higher issue is how we as a body are going to reflect Christ to the world in this."

Incoming... said...

i think you are on to something trev...