I’ve been thinking about hermeneutics—
thinking about various bases for differing interpretations of scripture,
and so, different rationale for both affirming and dismissing
It’s an interesting thinking,
because it’s basically the affirmation
that there’s something more important—more fundamental
and to posit that about holy texts
can be disconcerting
(though I’ll repeat it yet again,
if some Scriptural expectations are not heeded,
there is something more important than “just” Scripture).
To be sure, there isn’t much that can appropriately
be acknowledged as more important than sacred text,
so obviously there are plenty of hermeneutics
to which one cannot easily admit.
So while I’d love to be thinking
about the possibility of real conversation
about Scriptural interpretation
based on deeper truth,
I’m afraid there’s simply too much
that can’t be brought to the surface.
As I’ve mentioned, my acknowledged hermeneutic is love—
my best understanding of God,
most fully revealed, I believe, in Jesus.
I can thus justify love’s importance
as the lens through which I interpret and understand Scripture.
For even if Scripture points me to God,
I believe in the God bigger than indicators of God.
So Scripture indicates a truth (love)
that becomes the larger truth
against which it (Scripture) is itself weighed.
There are certainly other hermeneutical options.
What are some of them?
Not claiming or thinking this constitutes any kind of exhaustive list,
I decided it would be interesting to see what I could come up with.
• Not offending anyone might be someone’s hermeneutic,
• or, not offending anyone with money.
• What Jesus said—
red letter Christians, some call adherents to this hermeneutic,
though all we have is what we think Jesus said, right?
• If you want to be more specific, of course,
there’s the Jesus of Mark and the Jesus of John
(the Jesuses of Matthew and Luke too,
though the differences aren’t quite as stark).
• Anything but what Paul said.
• What I grew up with.
• What I’m comfortable with.
• What makes sense to me.
• Whatever whoever says (pick an authoritative figure
historical or contemporary).
• A hermeneutic might prioritize the institutional,
• or propriety, politeness.
• It might be cultural or even national,
• politically partisan.
• It might consist of some ideal: justice, peace, non-violence—
all of which carry the authority of God’s acknowledged values
as we understand them.
They’re certainly not all bad.
Some are very good.
Some definitely more deserving of criticism—
some not good—i.e. bad.
And yes, I’m biased.
All, I would suppose we should affirm,
fall short … must fall short.
And, of course, here’s the kicker:
as often as God, the prophets,
Jesus, and the apostles
have confronted (and continue to confront), precisely, the faithful,
the question within any given hermeneutic,
still ours with which to wrestle:
how is what I believe
other than what I want to believe?
How am I challenged beyond my own perspective—
within my own convictions?
Speaking for myself and for mine,
the biblical challenge to love—simply to love—
constitutes an incredible challenge—
let alone the affirmation
that it’s too easy (as hard as it is!)
just to love those who love you back—
and thus the expectation of loving the enemy.
The truth of God does not allow me
to get comfortable
with my hermeneutic.
But if anyone’s not challenged beyond their own perspective—
within their own convictions, then, dare I say it?
God’s not involved.