Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just Another Poor Hermeneutical Principle

I love good preaching and teaching of the scriptures. I get off on people expounding about the truth. I can only imagine that the feeling is what enthusiasts of spectator sports experience when watching a good game. Likewise, I want to yell at the players during the game when they drop the ball or at the ref for making a bad call.

One such time is when poor hermeneutical principles are employed. They seem forgivable when the preacher/teacher manages to score despite playing badly, but I cringe realizing that it was a fluke. Poor hermeneutics do not typically generate tenable teaching.

One such bad hermeneutical principle I have heard could be stated as such that the more a topic is mentioned in the Bible, the more important it is. To be sure, I can’t seem to find a reference to this in formal hermeneutical teaching anywhere, but I hear otherwise good preachers appealing to this principle all the time. I won’t name names, but a classic one is “1/3 of the Bible is nothing but prophecy. Therefore, it must be important to God.” Now, prophecy might be important but it’s not because of how much of the Bible could be considered prophecy. An argument could be made that the whole Bible is prophetic. To be sure, if this principle is applied consistently, then we must conclude that the doctrine of the trinity is irrelevant and the virgin birth is relatively unimportant. And the gifts of the Spirit were mentioned only once, but there is a whole book dedicated to the Levitical law! Haw many times are all those sacrifices repeated? I lose track when I’m reading through.

Rather, my desire is for preachers and teachers to make arguments for significance based on the reasonable certainty of a doctrine and its place in supporting the focus of scripture on the overall message of the gospel.

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