Hearing The Bible and The Pillars

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Lesson 2.2

I.  Interpretations of Scripture - General

A.     Old Hermeneutics

1.      Principle of Simplicity – natural not necessarily literal. I take the Bible “seriously.” Always seriously not always literally. Not always meant to be literal. Mt. 5:27-30.

Meaning?  How do we interpret? Apply to our lives?


2.      Thought: Charles Hummel, Creation or Evolution? , p.6 (1989)

     From time to time someone asks, “Do you take the Bible literally?” To which I respond, “I take the literal parts literally, the figurative parts figuratively and the allegorical parts allegorically.”

     The point should be clear. The Bible, consisting of sixty-six books written over a period of 1,300 years, contains many kinds of literature: prose and poetry, literal and figurative language, psalms and proverbs, historical narratives and parables. Each of those literary types has its own principles of interpretation. Whether we are studying Shakespeare or Michener or the Bible, those principles apply. We are not allowed to make a passage say whatever we want it to.


3.      Principle of History – Not read our time and present culture and setting to theirs. We are reading someone else’s mail. What did the author mean back then? Ac. 10:9


4.      Principle of Harmony    Agrees with the larger context of Scripture. Mt 5:22,30


B.     New Hermeneutic – the particulars. “fusion of horizons.” Cross several cultures. Take all into account. Not just them and us but so much in between. So we learn, understand, interpret and apply in our contemporary culture and time. Jn. 13:5-17. How do we obey these words of Jesus today? Listen to Him.  Jn. 14:15.  Do what?


C.     The Authority of the Bible.  Stott, the Authority of the Bible, p. 6

     For Christians are convinced that neither truth nor righteousness is relative, since God has given us (by revelation) absolute standards both of what is true and of what is right. Which brings us straight to our subject: Jesus Christ and the authority of the Word of God.

     Our starting point is the remark attributed to Charles Lamb that “if Shakespeare was to come into this room we should all rise up to meet him, but if that Person [Jesus Christ] was to come into it, we should all fall down and try to kiss the hem of his garment.” For myself I think we would do more than kiss his clothing. We would surely go on to acknowledge him as our Lord. We would kneel beside Thomas saying, “My Lord and my God” and beside Saul of Tarsus saying, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”   


1.      The Bible has Divine Authorship - Inspiration – God spoke it. II Tim. 3:16, 17.   

2.      Divine Authorship through Human Authors. II Pt. 1:20, 21. (40 authors, OT-30, NT-27).    

3.      Christian Realism – So we read it aware of both.       

a.       God’s Word, we read it as no other book. To hear God. Meet God. Know God. Obey God. By the Holy Spirit’s guidance, help and illumination. Lk. 24:44-49; Jn. 14:25, 26; 16:12-15.

b.      Written by humans. We have to be aware of culture, context, setting, times, world, words, literary uses, grammar and words used. Language. So we need prayer, study, divine illumination and investigation. II Tim. 2:15.


III. Our Culture and Times:

            A.  Marva J. Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time, (pp. 41ff).


     Premodern World

                        A – Gods, supernatural

                        B – Authority – knowledge of the gods of culture

                        C – Truth absolute

                 Modern (Modernity, Enlightenment)

                        A – Natural World

                        B – Autonomy

                        C- Relative – Science, technology, progress, choice


                        A – Deconstructions – loss of meaning, rejection of any point of reference,

failure of progress, despair, hopelessness.

                        B – Decentering – no center – of self (incoherence)   

                                                                    of society (fragmentation)

C – Repudiation of any truth. No truth. Meaninglessness, inability to trust anyone, loss of reference point.




            B.  Michael Guillen, Believing is Seeing, pp. 203f (2021)

A YouTube video with millions of views shows a reporter names Joseph Backholm interviewing students at the University of Washington. These presumably intelligent young people are receiving a high-priced education at one of our nation’s top public universities They could easily be you, your sons and daughters, or your grandkids.

     Backholm is an average-looking, 5’9” blue-eyed, white male in his late thirties. At one point he asks a female student “If I told you that I was a woman, what would your response be?”

     Without blinking an eye, the student replies cheerily, “Good for you-like, yeah, be who you are!”       

     Another student replies very politely: “Nice to meet you.”

     Yet another student shrugs and says, “I don’t have a problem with it.”

     Elsewhere in the video, Backholm receives the same sort of indulgent replies when alternately claiming to be seven years old, 6’5” tall, or Chinese. One student responds: “I mean, I might be a little surprised, but I would say, ‘Good for you –like, yeah, be who you are!”

     Behold the faces, voices, and mindsets of today’s Gen-Z post-truth culture. Where reality is whatever you want it to be. Whatever you believe it to be. Whatever you feel it is, no matter how fanciful, far-fetched, or downright farcical it is on the face of it.

     It’s as if we’ve literally steppe into and are living out Hans Christian Anderson’s famous fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes.