This issue of the Shepherd’s Staff is once again coming to you from the Middle East. Our B.E.N. campus is near Alexandria, and I am reminded of the tragic history of this city. I am referring to the events at the end of the second century, at which time Clement of Alexandria and Origen led the community in surrender to a human-based system of hermeneutics, turning their backs on the one Biblical system. That plague has followed the church to this very day.

Our new students here have almost no understanding of a hermeneutic that is Biblical, and for this reason hermeneutics is the first subject taught in each degree program. The most amazing transformation takes place when the students learn to see for themselves that a Biblical interpretation flows directly from the Bible! These servants of Christ are then able to own theology, as they finally understand how to gather the truth that was placed in Scripture at the time of its writing.

I have often said that what a person believes troubles me less than how he arrived at his position. The one Biblical hermeneutic will lead the Bible student to the truth. All other systems are equal in that they lead away from the truth; all error flows from an errant hermeneutic.

FACING THE PROBLEM

We live in a day when we can expect very often to hear of “the theological error of the month”. It is almost impossible to keep up with all the new ideas being proposed by so-called scholars. I will have to admit that many of them are brilliant intellectuals, but they have something in common with the history of Alexandria: their new theologies are nothing more an unabashed self-license to rewrite the Bible text.

The confusion is only accelerated by the plethora of new hermeneutical systems being proposed; however, in the end they all end in the same flawed theology. Small wonder that those on the left despise the issue of hermeneutics, because anything that simplifies the process would be anathema to their system. The goal of theological compromise is to “complicate to confuse”, while the Biblicist’s goal is to “simplify to clarify”.

GET TO THE POINT

The focus of this issue is on the fact that doctrine and theology are secondary to the process one uses to discover and confirm that theology. A breadth of background information and content consideration is essential to sound theology. On the other hand, just pouring a mountain of information into a student cannot produce continuing theological integrity. Such a student ends up with lots of information, but he still may not know how to lift from the text a theology that is Biblical. It is imperative that the student understands, and is skilled in, the science of interpretation by the one hermeneutic that is Biblical.

It would seem obvious, since the majority of hermeneutical systems are flawed, that the final product would in most cases be erroneous. In the final analysis, the normal, plain, consistent, literal hermeneutic stands alone as the guide to truth. This hermeneutic, of course, rests upon the grammatical, contextual, and historical setting of the specific text.

There is but one primary goal in this process, and that is the glory of God. Any other goal is secondary, no matter if it is ministry, missions, evangelism, or redemptive themes because, in the final evaluation, these all turn toward man and not toward God. That is also why man-centered theology elevates love above the holiness of God as its absolute guide.

THE TRUTH THAT FLOWS FROM THE TEXT

With all this in mind, my advice would be for every church to begin a program of systematic teaching of how to extract truth from the Bible text. Some preachers, I realize, might even feel threatened by knowing there were people in their pews that could measure the truthfulness of their teaching! Personally, I would be thrilled to teach people who could identify error because they knew how to get truth out of the Holy Scriptures.

Advertisements