3) THE TENSION OF EXPERIENCE
The fact is that when we experienced something new in the Holy Spirit(and who will doubt we did?) something new happened in the realm of scripture for us. My own testimony would be representative of many others:
a) brought up in a profound evangelical background
b) involved in academic biblical study, training and teaching with specific involvement in Biblical critical study and research.
c) A new dynamic about the Bible with the oncoming of the Holy Spirit – particularly in the realms of directive influence, spirituality, moral imperatives, and general living dynamic.
Martin Lloyd-Jones(Joy Unspeakable)
“Would you know the Christian truth, would you know the Christian doctrine or would you have a firm grasp and understanding of God’s great and glorious purpose? The highway to that is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
He goes on to identify two great universals amongst people like this:
A deep resonance with the truth exists
They feel at home with the essential framework of Christian truth.
The Bible is gladly and fully accepted as God’s Word
Not only because of its own claim to be true(2 Tim 3v16) but also because of its profoundly spiritual impact!
Is There An Answer?
Gordon Fee –
“All people do hermeneutics, even if they know nothing about exegesis. It is no wonder that there are so many differences among Christians; what is more amazing is that there are not more differences than actually exist.”
A number of Pentecostal/ Charismatic theologians have written on the subject of recent days. Among them J. Rodman Williams (Renewal Theology), Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart (How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth), Kevin Connor (Interpreting The Scriptures)
Apart from the first, the others are popular but helpful introductions which serve to highlight the growing need to address the question in renewal circles.
A. There are two basic principles they all accept
1. The need for the help of the Holy Spirit
“When one encounters the Holy Spirit in the same apostolic experience, with the same charismatic phenomenology accompanying it, one is then in a better position to come to terms with the apostolic witness in a truly existential manner… One then stands in ‘pneumatic’ continuity with the faith community that birthed the Scriptures.”
Howard M.Ervin; Hermeneutics: A Pentecostal Option in Essays on Apostolic Themes.
2. The need for a grammatico-historical approach.
This recognizes the need to understand the text, the historical context, the original writers intention and so on
“The key to good exegesis, and therefore to a more intelligent reading of the Bible, is to learn to read the text carefully and to ask the right questions of the text.”
i) The Historical Context – in other words the occasion and purpose of each Biblical book.
ii) The Literary Context – what’s the point? what’s the author’s train of thought?
iii) The Question of Content – meanings of words, links of words, paragraphs and so on.
iv) The Hermeneutic Task – the present relevance of ancient texts.
B. Six common principles
i) Pneumatic Understanding
Williams “It follows that true biblical interpretation calls for pneumatic understanding. The proper exegesis of Scripture is far more than linguistic analysis; it is most profoundly a matter of spiritual apprehension.”
ii) Authentic hearing
“The only proper control for hermeneutics is to be found in the original intent of the text.”
iii) Cultural relativity
Fee again – “The big issue facing any Christian committed to Scripture as God’s Word has to do with the problems of cultural relativity; what is cultural and therefore belongs to the first century alone and what transcends culture and is thus a word for all seasons.”
iv) Principle of discernment
– the need to distinguish between the basic core of the message of the Bible and what is dependent or peripheral to it.
Fee yet again –
“Thus the fallenness of mankind, redemption from that fallenness as God’s gracious activity through Christ’s death and resurrection, the consummation of that redemptive work by the return of Christ etc.,are clearly part of that central core. But the holy kiss, women’s head covering, and charismatic ministries and gifts seem to be more peripheral.”
v) Common sense hermeneutics
– most of us come to the scriptures, especially the Epistles and we bring our own enlightened common sense to bear. What does not seem to apply is left in the first century.
vi) The Literary Method
Namely the application of the tools of grammatico- historical studies to ensure the most secure text, the best understanding of context, the historical background and the factors which would influence or shape the approach of the original author/hearer.