Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mayberry Theology: “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise” pt. 2


The following is an irenic discussion with an Open Theist who takes exception to my hermeneutical approach to scripture; in particular my insistence that narrative be interpreted or understood in light of didactic.

(To read my specific statement regarding narrative and didactic passages in the Bible, see here: http://revtheruminator.blogspot.com/2012/08/mayberry-theology-surprise-surprise.html)

My interlocutor's words appear bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading.

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“The didactic vs narrative criteria is going to take a shellacking . Such a construct just doesn't have purchase with a majority of language scholars. I wonder if you've attempted that hermeneutic on the teaching of Jesus."

Have I tried this on the teaching of Jesus? The TEACHING of Jesus--by definition--is didactic. (Perhaps we're talking past each other here.)

We must be extremely cautious with basing doctrine on narrative. (True, teachings of Jesus, sermons of the Apostles, exhortations of prophets, etc. may appear within narrative portions of scripture; but the teachings, sermons, exhortations and the like are themselves didactic.)

I've no idea who these "language scholars" of which you speak are (appeal to "authority"?), but I know of no reputable treatment of hermeneutics which doesn't clearly distinguish between proper interpretive approaches to the various genres of the Bible.

“Good hermeneutics is forever calling the practitioner to review and seek other angles of approach on a topic.”

Unless the “other angles” are themselves thoroughly biblical, you and I are disagreed on this point. (I adhere to the “analogy of faith” principle that the Bible is its own best interpreter.)

If one approaches the text—untethered by the text—and is constantly in search of “other angles,” what is to keep one from fanciful, ingenious, subjective, and eisegetical “interpretations” (misinterpretations)? Such an approach to scripture, in my mind, is a “wax nose” hermeneutic.

“It could be said, that everything Jesus said or did was 'didactic' in that there will always be derived meaning and truth discovered.”

Yes, this is often said. And, it is often abused. How can we properly base objective doctrinal positions on narrative (stories about what Jesus did) without regard to didactic scripture? Again, such an approach is vulnerable to fanciful, ingenious, and subjective eisegesis.

For example, one may rightfully observe from the Bible that Jesus’ preferred methods of travel were walking, sailing, and--on one occasion--donkey-riding. Should we extrapolate from this that He was morally opposed to equestrianism? I hope you’re thinking: “Of course not! That would be silly.

Well...this is exactly the approach some folks bring to these facts of narrative. They observe Jesus’ travels and then ask: “What would Jesus drive?

And, from the narrative portions of scripture they authoritatively answer: “Jesus would NEVER own an SUV. It is most likely He would ride a bike or when necessary borrow a moped. IF He had to go by car it would be—without question—electric.”

How does one avoid or refute such “interpretations” and “applications”? I think the answer lies in interpreting scripture with scripture; in this case, understanding narrative in light of didactic.

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The entire discussion may be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/257166614399367/

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