Hermeneutics for All
Hermeneutics, the study of how to interpret the Bible, holds a critical place in the local church. We all have a hermeneutic, whether we know it or not. Even those that claim so boldly, “I just love Jesus!” are, in fact, practicing hermeneutics in their own way of interpreting the scriptures. So that too, is a hermeneutic. Hermeneutics have informed the church since scripture was written. The very texts held in the pages of the Bible often are interpreting themselves. For example, the New Testament (NT) book of Hebrews takes Old Testament (OT) writings and uses the scriptures to interpret how they relate to the incarnate Son. In Hebrews 1:4, the author quotes a Psalm in relation to Christ the Son.
Hermeneutics, according to Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard, involves the search for meaning deeper than what the text states at face value. If I wrote, “The apple fell from the tree yesterday,” this is fine at face value, but we must answer a few fundamental questions. Why did the apple fall from the tree? Where did it fall? How did it fall? Questions like these aid the reader in understanding the relevance of the statement.
I believe the church has partly failed its members in giving them a solid understanding of hermeneutics. If you doubt the preceding statement, go sit in on a freshman level theology class of any kind. You will see the disconnect found there, as these students bring all different perspectives from their years in the church learning (however subconsciously) how to read the bible from their ministers. At the very foundation of their jobs, ministers are to teach the congregants how to read their Bibles. While I understand that not all church members are going to be or even desire to be theologians, they need to understand the foundation of the interworking of the scriptures as they take place from creation to glorification. The Christian, as Paul puts it, must be ready in season and out to make a defense for the faith (2 Tim 4:2). Apathy is not a permissible quality for the Christian as it concerns their faith.
When developing one’s hermeneutic, there are several items to keep in mind.
- Be prayerful while reading, studying, and pursuing truth.
- Recognize that you do not and will not know everything.
- Humbly seek counsel and mentorship from elders.
There are going to be times where you feel lost, concerned, excited, and overjoyed. These feelings will come and go, but the truth of the scriptures will remain. At the end of the day, remember Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”