Forgotten Homework: The 2020 Study in Hermeneutics


(Spectrumbot) #1

Forgotten Homework: The 2020 Study in Hermeneutics

A convincing case could be made that the last time the global Adventist Church was truly “at study” was during the multi-year Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) effort that preceded the 2015 San Antonio General Conference. For one thing, the subject was important and impactful: it concerned how our church viewed the limits, if any, of women who feel called to gospel ministry.

Still, as influential as the TOSC study was, I think the reason the world church got so intimately engrossed was – the process. For the first time in our church’s history all thirteen divisions of the world church were tasked with setting up committees under the guidance of the General Conference (GC) Biblical Research Institute (BRI), to independently study a subject and report their individual findings without predetermined conclusions. Even the committees’ composition was groundbreaking. There were theologians and laypersons, pastors and administrators, men and women, young, old, not so old. The inclusiveness and diversity on the committees, coupled with their global spread, created a beehive of serious studies that reverberated throughout the worldwide Adventist subculture.

When it was over, we gained some noteworthy insights about our church on the question of ordination. First, we learned that our church has no theology of ordination. That is, we have no stated “belief” about who, and to some extent, why we ordain. Our church has almost 30 core beliefs but we have never considered ordination vital enough to include it on the list. This is significant because it follows that, during our roughly 150 years as an organized church, any male church member with no known public scandal or verifiable mental incapacity, who feels called to gospel ministry, could be trained, employed, ordained and aspire to the General Conference presidency – no questions asked. But not Adventist women who, by some estimates, make up over 60% of our church. It bears repeating; for almost four biblical generations in our history, we have had no theological justification for letting men in, and keeping women out. In contemporary slang: “We have been winging it”.

A second broad finding from the TOSC studies was that geography and culture influence our perception of who should be ordained. Some in high church circles were disappointed by this. They expected the church culture to be strong enough that on social issues we would project a unified front. But this finding should not be surprising because the church exists in society and is not immune to the general trends of the larger community it inhabits. Generally, SDA divisions in the more affluent parts of the north – of the north/south divide – approved of women’s ordination (WO), while divisions in regions with challenged economies, mostly in the south, disapproved. There are several different ways the support for and against WO, as reflected in the divisions’ recommendations, could be interpreted. But it is indisputable that the church was polarized on who should be ordained, and the split fell along discernible geographical fault lines.

Polarization notwithstanding, on aggregate more division committees disapproved of the status quo than committees who approved. This was a development that some key GC personal appear not to have anticipated. As originally conceived, the TOSC results were supposed to have been reported to the San Antonio GC delegates and voted on, as is customary with such study results. But once the data started showing a plurality of divisions in favor of ordaining women, the GC president changed his mind and insisted that the TOSC process was now only advisory, meaning the results would no longer be binding. For many, especially within the northern nations that favored ordaining women, it was this midstream process shift that poisoned the well.

But that was then, and now we are engaged in another study, on Hermeneutics (Interpretations), which will be voted on at the 2020 Indianapolis GC session. Yet, halfway through the five-year assignment, there is no noticeable world church engagement in this study as we experienced with the TOSC meetings. The reason for this almost total lack of church-wide awareness about this assignment is not because the church is exhausted from studying. Adventists seemingly never tire of a good study. So it is getting difficult to suppress cynicism, which keeps suggesting that perhaps the quietude surrounding the Hermeneutics study – is purposeful.

Hermeneutics, which was promoted as “our most important need” when introduced, was given to the BRI and some unidentified others within GC officialdom. The idea for this study came about almost with serendipity. A day after the San Antonio gathering voted down the motion to allow divisions discretion to ordain women, David Ripley, current president of Manitoba/Saskatchewan Conference, made an emotional plea for this study. In his view the bitter polarization evidenced at the session stemmed from an incorrect church hermeneutic. When he made his plea there was no indication that anything would come of it. But the next day Ripley’s proposal was brought to a vote and adopted – with an important caveat: it would be conducted by the BRI/GC, and their report voted on at the next GC session.

The BRI is a fine body, composed of biblical scholars from different backgrounds, and is dedicated to helping the church navigate the theological landscape. Its members are generally conscientious critical thinkers with unquestioned academic integrity – not “thought police” as some might suspect. For example, many BRI scholarly writings about WO, done individually and collectively over many years, have come to the same conclusions as TOSC: there is no biblical prohibition against ordaining women. I suspect that the BRI may be weary of this unsolicited assignment. A cursory search of their website shows that hermeneutics has not been a neglected orphan. Neither can we persuasively argue that the church lacks a coherent document on hermeneutics. At the 1986 Rio Annual Council the leadership voted to adopt a hermeneutics study that has guided us since. The Rio Adventist Hermeneutics document is an exhaustive 304-page tome.

So, why another study? And why did we not use a more open process like TOSC?

Well, we probably do need a new or substantive revision to our hermeneutics. Our present posture relies too heavily on proof texts to develop doctrine and that has long been concerning to many. The belief that our church is the sole earthly agency God has bestowed theological knowledge onto, especially concerning eschatology, is frankly too brazen. So yes, our hermeneutics may be due for an overhaul. But I worry about the spirit in which this study is being developed.

Considering how suddenly the whole idea came about at the last GC session, there is reasonable apprehension that this could be an opportunity grab by some in current leadership. Sadly, the motivation for this enterprise may not be to educate the church. It might instead be to create a totally new document – one that narrows the broader understandings of our faith, in the same way that some in this administration have sought to “rein in” the big tent safeguards regarding Fundamental Belief #6 (Creation), that had been honored by previous administrations. This fear is fed by the process adopted to conduct the study. It is worrying that, by assigning this to the BRI and the GC, it could lead to a scenario where a few individuals come up with this “all important” document. The BRI is made up of seven or eight associates and assignments like this could be handled in one of two ways. One common approach has all associates writing on different aspects of the study, after which individual papers are read and critiqued by the other group members. A second way gives one or two associates responsibility to write the entire study and the remaining members vet the finished result. This is comparable to the peer reviewed literature process except that, in this scenario, the reviewers are members of the group who know each other and will take turns critiquing one another. Either approach risks the independence and effectiveness of the entire process. Worse still is the sad feeling that this is a step backward because we know that, regardless of BRI method, such a product will lack the global denominational participation that was so refreshing about the TOSC process.

Two and a half years into the assignment, there has been no public information by the BRI or the GC about its progress so the larger church community could have buy-in. One of the greatest failings of the TOSC process was the GC sidelining of its work, in San Antonio. There was no official report of TOSC meetings from the individual divisions, or even a single report that summarized the outcome of the collective TOSC studies. Instead, we voted on a resolution at the session with little or no background information about what had led to this resolution. It will be to our collective shame if we, through benign neglect, ignorance or just indifference, allow these same mistakes to be repeated.

It is not a stretch to surmise that the GC leadership decided against using a TOSC-like process in studying hermeneutics in part because they were unsettled by what happened when all representatives had seats at the table to formulate policy. Instead of seeing the vibrant involvement by diverse voices within the church as something to celebrate, the leadership might not have liked the “messy” process. Perhaps it highlighted too much of our “differences”. They may have opted for a more controlled process using trustworthy professionals. The GC leadership gives the appearance of outmaneuvering change proponents and even hijacking a lively TOSC process to achieve a predetermined end. It is worrisome that the current invisible study in hermeneutics could end up similarly, this time to produce a document that aligns more with the fundamentalist worldview favored by the current GC leadership, then using a GC session to provide the imprimatur of legitimacy.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8514

(Sam Geli) #2

Luke 8:17
For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
Luke 12:3
Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

The emphasis on secrecy is disturbing. Biblical research should be open to discernment and wisdom. Hardly anything worthwhile happens in secrecy.


(Steve Mga) #3

Hermeneutics.
This is OK at the IVORY TOWER LEVEL of our Universities, and MAYBE University indoctrinated [brain washed???] pastors and Administrators of our Conferences, Unions, Divisions, Silver Springs.

BUT the REAL Hermeneutics occurs at the Church PEW Level. Irregardless of how much the S.S. Lesson Quarterly attempts to indoctrinate.
It is TRUE a Large Portion of SDAs in the Pews DO NOT “actually READ” Scripture outside of Proof Texts of the Sabbath School Lessons.
Recently we have studied several Biblical Books. How MANY Actually DID read all the verses in one sitting?

What these persons DO, What these persons REPORT, What this body of MEN spend on Air Flights, Nice Hotel rooms, Good Food, Transportation to and from will HAVE LITTLE EFFECT on the Pew Sitters. It is Tithe Money squandered on people who just want a FREE VACATION provided by Tithe Payers.

Those Pew Persons who DO Read, perform Critical Thinking processes as they READ, will be doing their own Hermeneutical conclusions.


(Ole-Edvin Utaker) #4

It’s a paradox that the institutional church reduces biblical interpretation to a mere vote in the general assembly; to a church council whose majority vote everyone has to internalize as final (to be in good and regular standing), including all church scholars.

And the paradox is this: the SDA Church’s DNA is based on the the reformation meta-principle of the ‘priesthood of all believers’; a grounding principle of religious tolerance and plurality, totally opposed to the coersive force of administrative absolutism, promoted through political powers of self-interest, and exclusion.

Thank you for your reminder!


(James J Londis) #5

The inherent contradiction facing the church as it undertakes this study is the fact that up until now, church leadership listens only to the most conservative voices on this topic, who comprise the BRI, the Seminary faculty and those wealthy patrons passionate about not allowing any change to come to the way we read and understand the Scriptures. If any elements in the historical-critical approaches (without anti-supernatural presuppositions) are permitted to make their case, the fear is that some traditional doctrines/teachings will be found “lacking.” Conversely, those same tools may also be found to remarkably buttress traditional doctrines. What I have discovered among so-called “liberal” scholars (non SDA) is an openness to seeing most issues through eyes not predisposed to any truly historical doctrines of the church. Oscar Cullman’s insightful study on “Immortality or Resurrection of the Dead” is an outstanding example of my point. That small volume upended millenia of Christian theology dominated by Greek notions of immortality, a task far beyond our own theological acumen at the time.

What then is the challenge? Those scholars informed about this issue but who are in disagreement with the Methods of Bible Study document will not only be ignored, but if they are invited, they cannot accept and be fully honest without endangering their career in the church or, if retired, their legacy and reputation. What to do, what to do . . .


(Sirje) #6

… what we’ve been doing for a long time.

When Ford opened up that can of worms a sort of “underground” church formed. Because of what happened to the more enthusiastic Ford “followers” members were reticent to even mention him by name. The more cautious among us, may have seen Ford’s points but didn’t want to leave the church, so they worked from within, maybe studying various books instead of the canned SS lessons that had been geared especially to counteract anything Ford at that time - especially with our “scholar in residence” editing the lessons to fit his narrative. It doesn’t make for a healthy, trusting church family, but it keeps the drama at a minimum for those who still consider themselves Adventists with its many-facetted lifestyle.


(Peter Marks) #7

Thanks Matthew!

Yes the promised Study on Hermaneutics seems to be forgotten homework!! Yet I believe that if this is done in an appropriate way much good could result.

The TOSC study process was good while it lasted. As you have suggested its design had much to commend it. To a large degree it took all sectors of global Adventists into its counsel. Yet, from my perspective, to some degree at least, it engaged in a “dialogue of the deaf” as the East-Central Africa Division pointed out. The whole process was brought to an end a full 12 months before a vote was to be taken, even while voices in the world church were pleading for resolution and clarification of pertinent issues and also for grassroots education. Thus the whole process was allowed to stall before time. Those satisfied with the status quo were pleased. Those who believe Adventists can yet tune our theology, polity and practices for the good of our mission enterprise not so.

A potentialy fruitful way forward through this present impasse, that is ordination, may potentially be found in investigating the validity of the differing interpretative frameworks that lie at the foundation of so much that Adventists believe about this issue. Subsequently, we may yet build a united interpretative framework on which to compose a united theology of ordination and the associated polity and policies. Such a united interpretative framework need not mandate that “thus and so” would happen in any given place. It is likely to be more flexible than that. In this scenario, the various denominational entities would design and implement rites to affirm, bless and consecrate leaders of God’s people with due regard to cultural dynamics within a broad policy framework.

Much work has already been done on this front!

  1. Journal of Adventist Mission Studies, Vol 12, No. 1. The whole issue is devoted to Mission and Hermeneutics and deals with the impact of culture on our biblical interpretation.
  2. Jan Barna, Ordination of Women in Seventh-day Adventist Theology: A study in Biblical Interpretations, (Belgrade, Serbia: Preprod, 2012).
    Jan Barna, “ordination of Women and the Two Ways of Unity: Ecclesiological and Biblical,” (A paper presented at the ASRS, Baltimore, MD, 21 November, 2013).
  3. Bertil Wiklander, Ordination Reconsidered: The Biblical Vision of Men and Women as Servants of God, (Bracknell, Berks,UK: Newbold Academic Press).
  4. Fernando Canale, Vision and Mission: How a theological vision drives the mission of the emerging remnant, (North Charlton, S.C.: CreateSpace, 2015).
  5. Cristian Dumitrescu, “Cosmic Conflict as a Hermeneutical Framework for Mission Theology in the Old Testament,” (PhD Dissertation, Andrews University, 2010)
  6. Reimer Vetne, “Jesus’ Understanding of Daniel as a Unifying Vision for ‘Conservative’ and ‘Progressive’ Adventists,” (A paper presented at the ASRS, Baltimore, MD, 21 November, 2013).

These above authors may not agree with each other in every particular. Barna and Wiklander have done the most in this regard to create an intrepretative framework based on the Scriptural metanarrative that speaks to the ordination issue.

Recently I have read a helpful paper by Dr Steve Grabiner, an adjunct professor at Southern Adventist University. It’s title is “A New Hermeneutic?” This paper seeks to provide evidence that the grammatical historical hermeneutic used by Adventists can adequately be used to interpret 1 Tim 2: 9-14 and 1 Cor 14:34 while granting a public role to women. In my opinion, he achieves his goal admirably, even though a plain reading of Scripture doesn’t envision this.

Interestingly, Eugene Prewitt, a TOSC operative, while speaking at my local church last Sabbath in the midst of his Sabbath morning sermon couldn’t resist an aside concerning WO. His comment was that in opposition to the proof-text method of biblical interpretation, supposedly supported by the “here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept” one other member of TOSC had dared to interpret Genesis 1 - 3 by seeking an understanding first from within its original context. And this without the interposition of oblique references to the Creation Story in the New Testament.

Adventists lose much by not seeking to educate our populace with the best in Adventist scholarship.

@phil
Phil! It will not do to scrap an Adventist reexamination of the important subject of hermeneutics.

Adventists can learn lots and share it among ourselves about hermeneutics even if it is solely within that part of hermeneutics called “special hermeneutics” or hermeneutic sacra.

One outstanding example of the usefulness of such investigation is contained in the work of both Jan Barna and Bertil Wiklander. It formed the foundation of their studies as set out in the documents listed above. Their conclusions about ordination arise out of their understanding of the Scripture as a 7 stage story from Eden lost to Eden restored.

Barna has identified the fact that Ellen White herself encouraged an understanding of Scripture beyond mere chain referencing. Ellen White in the book Education beginning on page 123 outlines a system of hermeneutics far in advance of this. The principle based approach to an understanding of ordination is a fine example of the hermeneutical system that Ellen White recommends here. Yet it is rarely understood here.

The second outstanding example of the usefulness of further investigation of hermeneutics is contained in the work of Fernando Canale and particularly as it has flowered in the work of Dr John Peckham in his book, The Love of God: A Canoical Model. Even a scholar such as Erv Taylor was forced to admit that Canale’s hermeneutical ctritique of the theory of evolution was sophisticated and challenging. Canale’s work has prompted me to understand the distinctive features of a truly biblical hermeneutical system as opposed to a hermenutical system rising from Greek philosophy and so popular in the Christian world today.

We Adventists need to be taught how to think biblically and Christianly, according to the principles of the best hermeneutical systems. Without such mature bible study we will certainly never arrive at a maturing unity among us on such points as ordination. With the advantages of such bible study we may yet press together.


(Phillip Brantley) #8

It is probably best to scrap the entire project for the following reasons:

  1. Very few Seventh-day Adventists understand what the study in hermeneutics is. Most think that the study concerns the development and articulation of fragmentary rules that govern exegesis. This approach is called “special hermeneutics” (reserved solely for theology) or hermeneutica sacra. Only a few Seventh-day Adventists have known since Schleiermacher that the study in hermeneutics is in reality a universal and multi-disciplinary endeavor and that hermeneutica sacra is in a teleological sense primitive and backward. There are maybe two on the west coast, three or four at the Seminary at Andrews University, one or two in Europe, and one up in the air as I fly back and forth between Berrien Springs and Sugar Land. But that’s about it.
  2. Very few Seventh-day Adventists have read the standard literature with respect to the study in hermeneutics. In order to meaningfully participate on a church committee tasked with writing a statement on hermeneutics, you should be familiar with the standard literature. The standard literature includes the relevant writings (or lectures) of Luke, Augustine, Flacius, Hamann and Herder and other Counter-Enlightenment thinkers, de Saussure, Heidegger, Gadamer, Husserl, the Russian Formalists, Derrida, Dilthey, historians such as Droysen and Hayden White, Georges Poulet and other Geneva School critics, the New Criticism thinkers such as Wimsatt and Beardsley, Iser and other Constance School writers, and as I scroll through 572 works on hermeneutics in my file folder I realize I cannot list everyone.
  3. Few Seventh-day Adventists understand how what may appear to be sound exegesis can be ripped to shreds by a critique grounded in an understanding of hermeneutics. The pitfalls to adhering solely to exegesis or hermeneutica sacra are dangerous. For example, because of a failure to understand linguistics, you might exaggerate the capability of words to function as determinants of meaning. Because of a failure to understand what law actually is, you might as a highly-credentialed expert in biblical law superimpose upon the biblical text a naïve and formalistic view of the law that is typically held by people who have never attended law school. Because of your failure to understand the contributions to the study in hermeneutics made by history and anthropology, you might never possess what the literature refers to as historical consciousness. I could provide other examples. If you are an exegete who does not understand hermeneutics, I suggest that you make sure you have a hermeneutist review your essay before publication.
  4. We do not teach a universal hermeneutics in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. At the Seminary, there is a class that provides a small introduction to hermeneutica sacra. And the professors no doubt offer little nuggets of insight that might inform students that there is so much more to learn about hermeneutics. A comprehensive church statement on hermeneutics is a poor substitute for learning the material. Seventh-day Adventists will erroneously think that they understand hermeneutics by virtue of reading such a statement. There are already too many Seventh-day Adventists who fail to realize in their ignorance that they do not know what they are talking about with respect to hermeneutics.
  5. Writing anything about hermeneutics, even by those who know the material, is very difficult, because we are writing for an audience that does not know the material. Thirty lectures that are each of an academic hour’s length might be effective. But a comprehensive statement of affirmations and denials will probably do more harm than good. Maybe in 150 years, Seventh-day Adventists might be adequately prepared to grapple with hermeneutics. At present, I do not think we as a denomination are ready for this.

(Jeffrey Kent) #9

My struggle is with nurturing my personal relationship with God. In my mind, that supersedes any need to understand how I should interpret the exact meaning of, say, Genesis 6:13.

If our denomination focused more on bringing its members to the foot of the cross, perhaps our fierce infighting regarding doctrine, standards, and divergent viewpoints would fade. Maybe we could demonstrate better that one quality which should characterize the followers of Christ: loving one another (John 13:35). Maybe we could tolerate each other more and argue less. Maybe we could devote more attention to the gospel commission. Fat chance.


(Dan) #10

The Xhosa translation version of this article is far from the standard and the words/phrases used cannot be called Xhosa. This is injustice to the language and I have reservations about the language competency of the translator. Who did the translation??


(jeremy) #11

i think there’s a difference between something like WO, and something like hermeneutics…with WO, ordinary church members, with or without theology PhD’s, feel immediately impacted…but with hermeneutics, the vast majority of members aren’t into it…they don’t think it has anything to do with them…there are thousands of BRI articles that no-one ever thinks of reading or understanding unless they’re theology scholars, or doing some kind of private research…the average adventist reads their bible, if they read it, through the lens of their own intuition, and possibly egw…a pronouncement on hermeneutics by our BRI, or even TW, isn’t going to change this…perhaps our GC understands this, and is doing this hermeneutics study for the sake of the record, if not for a very cloistered academic community…

this is undoubtedly true, especially since WO lost…but had the yes vote carried the day in san antonio, i don’t think anyone can deny that all would have been forgotten…it’s probably useful to recall that the TOSC process didn’t win any converts…even within the TOSC committees, themselves, no-one came out with a different conviction from the one they had going in…no-one was there to learn, or share…they were there to promote their own views, and outmaneuver opposition views…

i think the average church member understood from the start that the various TOSC committees, especially given some of the people who sat on them, were all a gong show…people made up their own minds, irrespective of their division’s TOSC committee, and whether they knew their own, or other, TOSC committee’s conclusions or not…i don’t think the sleight of hand that demoted TOSC into an advisory body can be imagined to be what kept african delegates faithful to their headship cultures, as if without that sleight of hand, all, or even some, of them would have voted WO…the problem with san antonio was nothing less ill-conceived than putting a cultural matter up for a vote…did the apostles put the question of circumcision up for a vote in jerusalem…the answer to this question is no…


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #12

The BRI did not generate enthusiastic endorsement when they had the chutzpah / temerity to issue a totally unscientific, gobbledygook statement on homosexuality, a complex subject which none of them were medically qualified to pontificate on.

After that, any further statement on any topic, will be justifiably met with scepticism and derision.


#13

Jeff,

Not picking on you personally…just using your post as a springboard. I have heard this “foot of the cross” cliché many times. It is religious lingo that is abstract & ambiguous.

Like I posted on another thread, how much is gained by regurgitating clichés, religious lingo, symbolic or abstract bible verses to audiences instead of just presenting LATIN masses?

This hermeneutic project is wasted as long as inept SDA pastors continue to present & parrot, superficial shallow homilies peppered with clichés, religious lingo * obscure bible verses without implementing the inductive method of teaching…(observe, interpret, apply.)

These cheapo sermons are part of the reason why people don’t read the bible…They don’t know what the religious English words are communicating.

See NEH 8:8

Steve,

I have posted this issue on Spectrum many times.

SDA are becoming more fanatic every week due to this lack of study

(Rom 10:2)

Try getting the SS teacher or pastor to do a poll of audience on who reads ANYTHING?

Bible reading is not promoted.

I watch Loma Linda University church online and the sermons & SS classes have so little bible expositions in them.

It is so disappointing since I visit non denom churches where they have pastors who do verse by verse bible study for sermons

Elmer,

Did you think through your question?

Have ZERO% of SDA ministers had any class on hermeneutics during their initial seminary/college training?

Ray,

Taking the phrase seriously is not the point. The point is understanding what the phrase means in the first place.

Would what you posted from Spurgeon come to mind automatically, to the person on the street, when someone said “we need to come to the foot of the cross”?

This dumbing down trend will continue as long as pastors & SS teachers are not questioned or challenged after their ONE-WAY superficial, cliché, religious lingo loaded presentations.


(Elmer Cupino) #14

Instead of spending millions of dollars and time in a worthy cause that can be suspended at a whim by any current GC president, why not impeach immediately any current GC president who suspends worthwhile studies made for the benefit of church members? Had TW been impeached immediately after he unilaterally downgraded TOSC to an advisory function and before San Antonio, our church would be in a different trajectory.

This is the stuff we deal with in mental health clinics among disruptive children. Parents do not know how to set firm and effective limits. The same with these various GC committees. They all appear to be impotent in their functions and responsibilities.

Just how on earth can one interpret bible verses without knowing the rules of interpretation, AKA hermeneutics?


#15

One day a boy and his grandparents came to visit a 150 -year-old historic Catholic church. As they toured the church , the grandfather explained the reason for some of the architectural and liturgical features, while the boy listened intently. Then they reached the confessional in the back.

“I know what this is!” the boy enthused, " It’s for time-out, right?"

How about the SDA Church Organization configurable the confessional in the back for time-out.

Time out to Hermeneutics and to Affectation of respite conclusions. For man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess.


(Ray Smith) #16

Gideon, what follows is just one expression that shows why many of us take the expression, “foot of the cross” seriously. We have Charles Spurgeon to thank for this.

"Behold how he loved us! He was taken to Pilate’s hall, and there was scourged—scourged with those awful Roman whips weighted with little bullets of lead, and made of the intertwisted sinews of oxen, into which they also inserted small slivers of bone, so that every blow as it fell tore off the flesh. Our beloved Lord had to suffer this again and again, being scourged often as that verse seems to intimate which says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Yet he loved us, loved us still.

Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it. When they nailed him to the tree, he loved us still. When, every bone being dislocated, he cried in sad soliloquy, “I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint,” he loved us still. When the dogs compassed him and the bulls of Bashan beset him round, he loved us still. When the dread faintness came upon him till he was brought into the dust of death, and his heart melted like wax in the midst of his bowels, he loved us still. When God forsook him, and the sun was blotted out, and midnight darkness covered the midday, and a denser midnight veiled his spirit—a darkness like that of Egypt, which might be felt, he loved us still. Till he had drunk the last dregs of the unutterably bitter cup, he loved us still. And when the light shone on his face, and he could say, “It is finished,” that light shone on a face that loved us still."

Gideon, you are right. For the person in the street who has limited knowledge of the Bible, even Spurgeon’s statement would need a lot of explanation. In fact, the sermon from which the quote is taken has a lot more meaningful explanation.

There are lots of short-hand expressions we use, depending on the audience. I think we could both list a lot of them that preachers and members alike use all the time. I agree that when they simply become cliches it is unfortunate. We need to dig deep into the Word.

I guess that’s why I find preachers like Charles Spurgeon and Horatius Bonar challenging even from their Calvinistic background. It’s why John Stott’s classic, “The Cross of Christ,” is in my opinion one of the most important books written in the Christian era outside of the New Testament. Stott gives the expression, “come to the foot of the cross” a depth of meaning that is life-changing. It’s why I find Andrew Farley’s Christ centred, grace centred preaching so helpful spiritually. Many SDAs will find it hard to give Andrew a proper hearing because he has the ability to bring home some hard truths re law and grac, re the Holy Spirit, our human spirit and the new birth miracle. Sorry to talk in short-hand (“cliches”) again but I think you understand.

It appears in this modern age that there are many Christian pulpits where Christ does not take centre stage. Sadly, it seems that the problem exists in the SDA church as well. I listened via the internet late last year to a Union president preach to one of the churches in his parish. I’m still wondering why he took up forty minutes of everybody’s time.

Surely we live in serious times and the truth of Christ crucified, risen and ministering His love, grace, forgiveness and righteousness to a world in desperate need of salvation is our mission. To quote Bonar, “The cross is the axle on which the universe turns.” It’s a one-liner that is meant to encourage the reader to discover why knowing Christ crucified, risen and living in us is paramount.


#17

hermeneutics is another rabbit hole debate
comes down to belief and surrounding influencing cultures

Solomon classic example he married with 500 off them
question should be ! do we divorce our self from surrounding cultures ?


(Scott Bennett) #18

Won’t they be surprised when they discover that neither Jesus or the New Testament authors give a historic precedent to their method of interpretation? I wonder what method of hermeneutics Jesus used when applying OT prophecies to himself.


(Gerhard Dr Svrcek Seiler) #19

Just a simple examplle about t “you” and “thee” some evangelist in his SS QUarterly contribution brouhght an detailed examplme about Luke 22 :31 : “you” - that in nowadays Eglish means one or more persons. nowadays. .

If the authors interpretations were right - what about the sense ( ! ) and this compared with the originalt text “umas” - that is the plural , simply (likwwise in Luther) - and makes sense ! : Satan is shaking all of you disciples , and not only Peter !


#20

Phil, I wonder whether you have unintentionally taken us back to Pre-Reformation times, where only an elitist group is able to understand the canonical text. This is tantamount to a position where the simplicity of the Gospel is exchanged for multiple complexities and where an ordinary person (like myself) has a ‘snowflake’s chance in the hot place’ of actually comprehending and appreciating the saving message of Scripture.
You mention some of the celebrities of deconstruction and hermeneutics (in point 2). If we (fully) go down their path, reading the biblical text becomes a quantum-mechanics-like exercise where we simultaneously deconstruct, re-construct and destruct (the latter, perhaps, to our eternal loss).
And where does such an exercise leave us? What part does sincere prayer and the Holy Spirit play in all of this? Is it possible that we find ourselves in the company of the Trinity of the Hermeneutics of Suspicion - Marx, Nietsche and Freud - not to mention that we might have embraced a fully-fledged postmodern Weltanschauung, or worse?