Ask yourself a question: have you seriously engaged the study of Scripture, so that you have basic, foundational hermeneutical principles clearly in your thinking? Are you considering the original context, author, audience, and the genre of what you are reading (didactic, poetry, etc.)? Are you looking to the entire argument of the book or epistle, and then, finally, to the greater context of all of Scripture?

These are the basics. They are not “post modern” or any such thing: they are the basics of the medium God has used to communicate His Scriptures to us: language. 

But here is the test: when you encounter a key text that could, in fact, impact your currently favored theological position (especially if that position is the subject of controversy), do you alter your hermeneutical method so as to come to the needed interpretation?

When dealing with Roman Catholics, for example, and you are looking at Matthew 16:19, and you point out to the RC that δώσω is future, not present, tense, (“I will give” not “I am giving”) do they respond by appealing to an external authority rather than actually dealing with the text itself? Many of us have experienced this in doing apologetic evangelism with many groups.

But do we not face the temptation to do so as well?  We may well consider a particular position “generally orthodox,” but in my experience, the closer we are to another position, the more likely we are to go to the mat to distinguish our views!  And it is just here that we find out just how far we are willing to stretch sola scriptura and make room for other sources of authority.

Remember that there is an ontological distinction between Scripture (theopneustos) and anything else (creed, confession, commentary), which leads inevitably to an epistemological necessity for the church as a whole, the congregation as a whole, and the interpreter personally, to always consider the role theology, tradition, and controversy could be playing in the very delicate balance between lens and object.  Only the Scriptures are perfectly consistent with themselves; our interpretations, theologies, and confessions, are never fully consistent, and hence can never be allowed to take the place as lens and therefore determiner of meaning. Confessions are just as useful as they are faithful to the ontologically superior and distinct Scriptures from which they take their authority. 

©2022 Alpha and Omega Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?