Friday, April 8, 2011

Digging Deeper into God's Word: Hermeneutics

Yesterday, I told you that a class called Biblical Hermeneutics (her –men-new-tics) changed my life. I did not, however, tell you what hermeneutics means. Hermeneutics is the science of studying God’s Word. It is the method we follow to find meaning in the scriptures. Good hermeneutics is essential to good theology.
Today, I came across a forum discussion of John McArthur’s on bad hermeneutics. I wanted to share what I read with you to further convince you why good hermeneutics is so important:
“Those who take God’s Word seriously spend many hours in study. Coming out of diligent study are lessons, sermons, articles, and books that are deep, weighty, sober, doctrinally coherent, and theologically consistent.
Sadly, today’s evangelicals aren’t known for being profound, sober-minded, or consistent; instead they’ve developed a reputation for being superficial, trivial, doctrinally erratic, and theologically naïve. Want proof? Walk into your local Christian bookstore, sample the preaching online, survey the blogs—the shoe fits.”
One of the individuals who responded on this forum shared two examples of bad hermeneutics:
“I heard a local pastor preach a sermon from Mark 6:6-13. In this text is Jesus sending out the twelve to preach the gospel. His sermon was about accepting one another in marriage. He said Jess accepted and used the disciples even though they were just ordinary men. Therefore, we must accept one another in the marriage relationship. That is absolutely foreign to the intent of the author.

Recently, at our state convention preaching conference, a man used Isaiah 49:2 as his text. He took one phrase from that text, "a polished shaft," and preached a sermon on how God selects preachers. His whole sermon was built upon the way American Indians selected and made arrows. For instance: the shaft is selected; the shaft is shaped; etc. He never discussed the text at all. He never even referred to it again after the initial reading. It was sad. The worst thing is the poor model he put before young preachers at the conference. Again, it is an abandonment of authorial intent. The interpreter must have as his goal discovering the intent of the human author.”
Without good hermeneutical skills, we miss the point of the passage. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss the point that God wants me to get. I can’t afford to!  So, let the hermeneutics begin!

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