Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Question on Hermeneutics

Why is it so hard for believers to understand Scripture? If it's the Holy Spirit that helps believers interpret the Bible (1 Cor. 2:10), then why do we have so many interpretations? That is the focus of this question, sent to me by someone on Facebook.

Hey Randy, I have a question after learning about more hermeunetics and scripture (something some of my cellgroup members are curious about too) that I hope you can help me with!
It's rather simple, why did God make it so hard to understand the scriptures? It seems that to do so we need to take cultural contexts, original language etc.etc. into account when interpreting a particular text. .. which is rather hard for the average person to do (esp when it involves knowing greek or aramaic)

I definitely understand what you’re saying here. There are a number of reasons this is so, both logical and practical. First, God spoke to a particular people in a particular cultural context. This means that unless God forces all cultures to be the same thereafter, people are naturally going to have to overcome that barrier. Second, there is the issue of free will. God could, presumably, just have all saved people get all doctrine easily and correctly the first time through the Spirit. However, just like we don’t become fully conformed to the image of Christ while here on earth, so we also do not gain all the knowledge we can alone, or on this earth. 

This problem is essentially the problem of why God allows us to live life on our own, with its attendant challenges. The answer is the same in both cases: God wants someone to freely love him; God wants someone to freely grow and come into the knowledge of him. Most importantly, the Bible reveals we are to do this through the Spirit and not our own power. This preserves free will while accounting for the fact that there are many saved people who differ on many doctrines. 

Finally, on the doctrines essential to salvation (that is, doctrines that if one denies he is not saved), the Bible indicates Christians will be in unity (John 17). Hermeneutics is a wonderful area of study and as you grow in it you will be grateful for the things you know. You’ll find yourself taking certain interpretive principles and background knowledge for granted that others do not know. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well with that!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Randy, I think there is a factor here people in academia for get. The devil! He is about "doctrines of demons". We tend to. Build our worldviews like sandcastles. But lies are a natural element in this world-system. So there are going to be heresies, cults, false doctrines and misinterpretations. But a Godly worldview will be unique in that it has the truth. :)


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