Biblical Hermeneutics … Living out The Big Picture in LoveAuthor: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Discipleship, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Patternism
Regardless of claims to the contrary no one simply reads the Bible. The Bible is interpreted. When Christians say that women do not have wear veils, we do not have to greet each other with a kiss, we do not have to lift up hands in prayer, etc we are interpreting Scripture. The question is not if we will interpret the Bible but only will our interpretation be a good one or a bad one.
Christian hermeneutics will always begin as a response to the God of all grace who has done great things. Christian interpretation will be rooted in the soul that is seeking to reflect God’s glorious image back into the created world around us. Christian biblical interpretation will begin in prayer and will be understood as “an act of worship.”
Thus interpretation that does not begin in prayer and worship and result in the Spirit flowing through us to a vandalized world then we have a right to question if it is a valid hermeneutic or Christian interpretation.
Prayer, Worship and reflecting God’s image these are the beginning points and the ends/goals of interpretation. I have found the following big picture ideas helpful as a framework for Christian interpretation of Scripture in God honoring ways.
First. The Bible is inspired of God’s Holy Spirit through the words of human beings in specific historical circumstances. Thus it is literally the word of God and the word of humans. Thus the text was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and not Spanish, English or Southern. God’s word addressed them in that situation and may not be God’s directive for all time and all places.
Second. Because of the historical nature of revelation we must pay close attention to the historical occasion of the text. Why was it said or written in the first place? We assess the meaning of words in their historical and literary context if we respect God’s word. I cover this point usually by saying there are two rules for reading the Bible, “Context and Context.”
Third. But the Bible is not simply a Hodge Podge of stuff. The Bible actually has a Story that each historically conditioned text contributes to in some fashion. The Gist of that Story is this: The Triune God created the universe as an act of love so that created life can have communion/fellowship with him. Creation Rebelled and vandalized that good creation erecting a barrier between Creator and Creation. And the Triune God is working within creation to redeem, restore and even glorify his creation. This is the “grand narrative.”
Fourth. That Grand Narrative, story line, is the skeleton on which the various individual and historically conditioned, texts “hang.” Genesis 1-2 and Rev 21-22 are the bookends to the macrostructure of the canon of Scripture. This narrative is broken into Six stages or “Acts” as some call them. They are:
1) God Establishes his Kingdom in Creation (Gen 1-2)
2) Shalom vandalized in the Kingdom – Rebellion (Gen 3-11)
3) Triune God chose Israel by grace alone to bring creation
back into communion with him. Israel was to be leaven in the
rebellious world. Redemption is initiated. (Gen 12-Malachi)
4) The Triune God sends the King thru Israel. Thru his work in his physical
body, rebellious creation becomes obedient to the will of God and
is redeemed through the death, burial and resurrection of the King
(Matt – John)
5) God’s renewed creation is placed in the world through the church.
Here the values of the King, the values of God, are lived out and
performed on Earth as they are in heaven. These are the people of
the Resurrection. They are not of the old fallen order rather they are
in the world to be the seasoning of redemption to, demonstrate what
“Heaven” is supposed to be like. The Fall is turned on its head in
the church (Acts – Rev 19)
6) The Return of the King. Redemption is consummated and the evil and
corruption that has marred God’s creation intent is fully recognized as defeated
and cast out by the resurrection of the body of Jesus. Vandalism is replaced
with beautification and glorification (Rev 21-22)
This basic outline can reap rich rewards. Remembering the Grand Narrative of the Bible helps us to see the actual goal of the Bible. The Narrative points us to the “point.” When we know the goal that shapes our present not just from one command or example but in light of the entire Narrative that is lurching forward by the power of the Spirit toward the redemptive goal of God. We want to live our lives both individually and corporately sharing in God’s own mission.
Remembering this basic outline in light of prayer and worship and seeking to reflect God’s true image into the world can go a long way towards sound Christian biblical interpretation.
“But the goal of this command/instruction is LOVE, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from the these and have turned to meaningless talk. These want to be teachers of the Bible, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” (1 Timothy 1.5-7)