Just when one hopes for an in-depth article about hermeneutics, Hanz submits one… Thank you!
The Bible is a collection of ancient faith testimonies in written form. It’s basically written theology. I agree that a canon (“rule”) is by definition “a criterion of faith” and “a guide for life.” We Adventists should open an honest discussion about what that means, away from all the stigmatizing and demonizing.
There is a depth of the Bible that the rational mind cannot grasp. Jesus said: “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:17) With experience and also humility comes faith, not with the mind alone. It’s an unsystematized collection of theological testimonies. I’m not arguing against the use of the mind, of course. But trust (faith) goes beyond that and has a wider perspective.
Luther was complex in his Bible reading. His lens with which he read the Bible was law and Gospel, with a priority for Gospel as faith enabler. I am also impressed by his ablity of a Christocentric reading beyond a literal reading. And also by his desire not to make a law out of the gospels, not to imprison their power.
And there is also us, the people who bring all sorts of things to our reading experience. That’s why we need the community of faith, reading with them, those long gone before us and those living and us personally as valuable members of that community. We all together discover the richness, each generation anew. For me, it’s not us vs. them, but we. I agree with Luther that the Gospel is understandable for all, but I also agree with him about a community experience of mature Christians that brings depths. We don’t have to agree with everyone of this community (“cloud of witnesses” in Heb 12), but we should at least listen to their perception with humility, and they should listen to ours. Reading with but not instead of us. 4 gospels, 4 perspectives of the one Gospel…
If we Adventists continue this hermeneutical way that we have now for a couple of years, we will end up with an Adventist magisterium (consisting of living people and Ellen White). We will shift the responsibility of enabling our faith and guiding our lifes away from the Holy Spirit to an elite and to a literal reading from their perspective. We will cease to read together, but we let them read for us. We “Catholicize” ourselves, ironically voluntarily.