Skip to main content

Introducing Hermeneutical Frameworks III

In the last post we examined the traditional Evangelical hermeneutical method, where inerrancy functions as a key control in interpretation. As I mentioned, though, others don't take this approach. Another very common framework is to interpret using the 'rule of faith.'

Those who hold this view interpret within the 'box' of creedal orthodoxy. Scripture is still fully authoritative in the life of the church, but the way we interpret individual passages is left open as long as one does not deny the basic claims of the creeds of the early church (think Nicea or Chalcedon). Most questions related to historicity of events in the Bible are left open. Thus the boundary has been pushed out further than the traditional Evangelical boundary (inerrancy) and is also different in nature.

When working under the traditional definition of inerrancy, the text of Scripture forms your boundary. You identify its genre and then affirm everything that the text affirms. The rule of faith places the boundary in church traditions, which were based on Scripture. For that reason, some will criticize this method of interpretation, arguing that it elevates the creeds of the early church to or even above the level of Scripture. However, it response, it would be said that the creeds are based on Scripture thus the objection doesn't carry as much weight as it may initially seem to carry.

Another charge leveled against the rule of faith is that it is arbitrary. Which creeds form the rule of faith and why? Typically opponents will then point to the possible danger. If all we hold to are creedal definitions, and we can, for example, deny the historicity of almost every pericope in the gospels, then what are we left with? Haven't we eroded the supports to the bridge making it unsound? Are we left with anything that is reasonable to place our trust and hope in? With that said, most detractors of this view will realize that most proponents of the rule of faith don't go down that path, but they still worry about the slippery slope.

Let's look at our Mark 2:26 example from last post to see how one would use the rule of faith to guide interpretation of a particular text. You would have no problem with coming to the conclusion that Mark erred[1] in his identification of Abiathar as high priest. What they are bound to affirm depends. At minimum they must affirm the general thrust of the entire section - Jesus is the Messiah. All also would probably (but not necessarily) suggest that we must also affirm whatever implications this passage has on sabbath/Lord's day observance. There is openness, when using the rule of faith, to have one's understanding of the nature Scripture changed based on what one sees in the text.

[1] This is true even those within this position who accept a redefined inerrancy like Kent Sparks does. He claims that while human authors erred God didn't. He accommodated himself to an errant human witness, and basically said, 'that guy speaks for me in what he wrote.'


Popular posts from this blog

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Aquinas and Conclusion

When we reach Aquinas we come to the pinnacle of orthodoxy when it comes to the Trinity and Christology. Christology was important to Aquinas and he dedicated the first fifty-nine questions of Tertia Pars of his Summa Theologiae[1] to the topic. In many ways it is refreshing because he does not treat solely the more philosophical questions of who Jesus was that preoccupied theologians from the third century on. He also spent extended time on Jesus earthly ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification which was a major innovation.[2] Of course every possible topic of Trinitarian and ontological speculation is also probed. For the sake of space we will only hit some highlights.

Aquinas is clearly in step with the tradition that can be traced from Nicea, through Augustine and the Lombard, to the heart of the Middle Ages. One thing to briefly note is that even in his densest argumentation, Aquinas was not trying to prove elements of his theology via rational argument as that…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Irenaeus

Starting from Irenaeus, Christology, in some respects, moves on. A big part of this would have been due to the “gnostic” controversies. It became increasingly important to clarify the relationship between Father and Son and to minimize their distinctiveness, while still maintaining Jesus’ full humanity. From this point on, clashes over heresy about the nature of Christ and discussions related to Trinitarian theology dominate Christological discussion to the point that the original emphasis on Jesus’ Messianic identity fades to the background.[1] Maintaining the affirmation that Jesus was both human and divine was critical for Irenaeus and those after him because they saw that as the necessary grounds of salvation.[2]

Of particular interest to Irenaeus was the baptism of Jesus. What happened when he received the Spirit?[3] It was not the means by which the Word entered Jesus. He was not merely human before that point.[4] Rather it was a divinization of the human nature of Jesus, a nat…

End of Summer Review/Update

The school year is now upon us and I'll definitely not be posting the next two months. This summer didn't quite go to plan so I didn't get to do the blogging I was hoping to do. Specifically I was planning on blogging through 2 Thessalonians, but that didn't happen. It may happen late in the fall, but we will see. I may instead decide to pick up a different Pauline letter (perhaps 2 Corinthians). This is my last year of school  and by the fall of next year I should be back on a more regular blogging schedule.

A lack of blogging was not from a lack of productivity (although I'm sure my Pokemon Go playing did cut into my reading time a little bit). I've had a interesting summer learning about Medieval Christianity and specifically focusing on Peter Lombard and Thomas Aqunias. They'll both be featured in my next paper in Exploring the Christian Way which I hope to publish here in late January of 2017. 90% of the reading and 80% of the writing is done for that …