Hermeneutics Should Be A Community Project

communityToday I’m doing some teaching on hermeneutics at London Theological Seminary. One of the things that has struck me in preparation is how often we slip into individualism and self-sufficiency in this area. We tend to act as though so long as we have a sound methodology we’ll probably manage without the help of the Spirit, and certainly without the help of other believers. Here’s a quote on the importance of viewing hermeneutics as a community project:

“Scripture comes to us in the shape of human words, which are already “contextual” (in the sense of being written for very specific historical contexts) and are, moreover, open to different interpretations. In making the affirmation above I am, however, suggesting a “point of orientation” all Christians (should) share on the basis of which dialogue between them becomes possible. No individual or group has a monopoly here. So, the Christian church should function as an “international [and I’d add historical] hermeneutical community” (Hiebert 1985b:16) in which Christians (and theologians) from different contexts [and eras] challenge one another’s cultural, social and ideological biases. This presupposes, however, that we see fellow-Christians not as rivals or opponents but as partners (Küng 1987:198), even if we may be passionately convinced that their views are in need of major corrections.”

D. Bosch,Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991, p.187

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