“It Ain’t That Complicated” — Applied Theological Hermeneutics I –

“It ain’t that complicated.”

My recent series on “theological hermeneutics” may seem complicated. I may have made it look complicated. But I don’t think it is complicated at all.

The method for which I argued does call for inductive Bible study, reflection, contemplation, holistic thinking, attention to the plot (metanarrative) in the theodrama, prayer, communal dialogue, and participation in God’s story. The more difficult part is living out the story rather than understanding it. Complications most arise when our sinful natures resist embracing God’s intent for our lives or we look for something that is not there (expecting something that God did not provide).

Spiritual Process

Understanding the divine drama within Scripture and discerning the divine intent for our lives is as much a spiritual as an intellectual act. Our sinful natures blind our intellects and debilitate our spiritual sensibilities. Consequently, every hermeneutical adventure must begin with prayer.

Every hermeneutical act participates in the cosmic and spiritual struggle to embrace and embody God’s intent for us. Through it we seek to discern the kingdom of God at work in the world and in our lives.

The agent of this spiritual work of God is the Holy Spirit.  The role of the Spirit in redemption is the application of that redemption to the life of the community and individuals, and this includes spiritual transformation. Good hermeneutics is part of that transformation. God created us for hermeneutics (see my series on that point), but chaos corrupted its goodness. The Spirit transorms our hearts and minds to read the Story “better,” that is, we understand, internalize, apply and live it.

We can hinder that process by our attitudes and heart, but the Spirit can also overcome our cognitively misguided hermeneutical conclusions by the power of his transforming presence. In other words, we might have a terrible cognitive hermeneutic, but yet live transformed lives. But the reason for transformed living is not found in how well we have understood everything correctly, but because God has been at work in us. The whole person reads the text, and the Spirit works on the whole person (volition, affections and intellect). Every aspect of the human person needs the transforming work of the Spirit, including our intellects as we read Scripture.  Sin affects our minds and our minds need the Spirit’s redemptive work not merely to read Scripture but to know God more deeply.

Insight is something the Lord gives. For example, after Paul encouraged Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus” and used various analogies to press his point upon his son in the faith, he paused to ask Timothy to “reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this” (2 Timothy 2:6).

We read and then we reflect.  In this hermeneutical process, God will give the insight. It is a synergistic or cooperative act between God and his people.  God gives his witness through Scripture and we read the text. And then we reflect on the text relying on the wisdom God provides because we are assured that God continues to act through Scripture to give insight. God is active not only in the giving of Scripture but also in the interpreting of Scripture through the presence of his Spirit. God gives the fruit of wisdom to those who listen, to those who have ears to hear.

Many think this introduces too much subjectivity in the hermeneutical act.  But subjectivity is part of the process; it is unavoidable.   This is does not mean that there are no objective or empirical boundaries (see my “Created for Hermeneutics” series), but it does mean that discernment, internalization and application involve subjective dimensions of the mind and heart.  There is a danger in both rationality and subjectivity, but locating the hermeneutical work of the Spirit in sanctification and transformation reminds us that it is a process of growing into the image of God in Christ by the power of the Spirit. Both rationality (cognitive thought) and subjectivity (personal reflection) need the transformative presence of the Spirit to lead us to God.

One of the objections to this understanding is that if the Spirit helps us read the Bible, then why don’t we all read it alike? The Spirit is our sanctifier and is at work in believers to lead them to holiness.  But we don’t all have the same level of holiness.  We should not expect more in the hermeneutical arena than we also find in the moral arena. Seeing hermeneutics as part of the broader theological topic of sanctification reminds us that we are all in process, that no one has it completely right, and there is always room for more depth, discernment and insight. There is always room for more growth in understanding as well as holiness. At the same time, there is also room to see a broad consensus or agreement between believers who discern the same theodrama in Scripture and at work in the world today. We confess, for example, that the Father created the world, the Son became incarnate for the sake of our redemption, and the Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ. That is no minimal consensus but the structure of the metanarrative itself!

Simple or Complex?

At one level, I believe the hermeneutical process is quite simple. At another level, it is quite profound.  The Gospel of John, for example, has many simply stated truths but they are nevertheless deeply profound in meaning.  Just as the words and meanings of Scripture can be both simple and profound, so the process is as well.

But profund does not necessiarly mean complex or complicated.

I have argued in an earlier series that the “Command, Example, Inference” (CEI) method of Churches of Christ within the Stone-Campbell Movement is quite complex. It has all kinds of hidden rules about “binding examples,” implied commands, generic/specific categories, prohibitive vs. permissive silence, the law of exclusion, etc.

None of these “rules” are spelled out in Scripture. Rather, they are extraneous rules applied to the text of Scripture from a different hermeneutical paradigm than the literature of Scripture evidences. These rules do not emerge from the nature of Scripture itself, that is, they do not emerge from the genre of the literature. Rather, the rules emerge from the combination of (1) a Baconian framework, (2) a legal goal (what is “authorized”) that invokes a legal hermeneutic designed for legal texts, and (3) a constitutional literary model of Scripture.

I suggest that the understanding and application of those rules is a complicated process that is nowhere near “simple.”  It is only “simple” to those schooled in the rules as if they grew up speaking that language; for them it is “common sense.” For those who were raised with CEI as a hermeneutical method the application of the method is as “simple” as speaking English and they can’t understand why those who speak Spanish don’t understand its simplicity.

But the history of Churches of Christ reveals the illusion. It is not simple. Our history is strewn with divisions over the application of this method–one or multiple cups at communion, Bible classes or no Bible classes, may assemblies be divided, handclapping, instrumental music, Bible Colleges, use of church treasury, kitchens in the building, etc., etc., etc.  All involved the tweaking and use of CEI. The application was not so simple.

A More Simple Way?

My series has assumed that Churches of Christ are at a hermeneutical crossroads.  On the one hand, we may continue the task of “constructing a pattern” out of the details (data) of Scripture and then implementing (obeying) the pattern. The pattern is not there per se. We must discern it, isolate the data, rearrange the data, and put it into a system (pattern) which we can duplicate.  Thus, we have “five steps” of salvation, “five acts” of worship, and “three works of the church” (evangelism, benevolence, edification based on Ephesians 4:12).

We generate the true “marks of the church” such as membership rules, worship rules, polity rules, etc. None of these appear in the text as lists, systems, or rules. Rather, we construct them according to the hermeneutical process we know as CEI.  These are the rules that are regulated by “positive law” (though we may no longer use that term in the 21st century) and are thus necessary for a faithful church, authentic fellowship and “sound doctrine.”

On the other hand, I have been suggesting that we do something which I believe is much more simple but yet also profound.  I have suggested that we:

  • Read Scripture to discern the theological substance (identify the metanarrative).
  • Apply that theological substance to our context (recontextualize the metanarrative)
  • Live that substance as participation in God’s story (participate in the metanarrative)

How does that work practically? Well, that is what I hope to illustrate in this series. 

Through prayer, the transforming work of the Spirit, and communal dialogue, perhaps we can read Scripture in a way that enables us to participate in the theodrama to which Scripture bears witness. This is my hermeneutical goal and I hope this series will draw us into the story so that we might embody the metanarrative in our own lives for the sake of the world in which we live.

 

More to come next week (I hope)…..after a brief trip to the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and the Hall of Fame game! 

 

Shalom



23 Responses to ““It Ain’t That Complicated” — Applied Theological Hermeneutics I –”

  1.   Jeff Says:

    Any hermeneutic model which includes “recontextualizing the metanarrative” probably isn’t going to win any awards for simplicity.

  2.   Quiara Says:

    Welcome back, JMH.

    I hope your mini-vacation was restful and restorative.

    I’m quickly moving toward a theology centered in the proposition that the gospel is central. Beyond that, it’s just detail.

    Or that’s where I think I’d like to be, at least.

  3.   rich Says:

    yes i agree
    TOO SIMPLE
    LIKE THOSE ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS,
    AND JOHN MARK SAYS,
    yep i know right where that place is,”to the traveler asking for directions”
    “remember that map you looked at last month”
    “yes kinda”.
    well just like the map says “you can’t get there from here you need to start somewhere else”.
    once you get “there” trust me it is simple.

    go look at that map real hard this week
    come back and we will find that “start spot”,” and you will see as plain as the nose on your face”that big red “X” on that SPOT.

    JOHN MARK
    are you telling me that the easter bunnie laid those pretty eggs,”again”

    anyway:
    i for one will review,.
    all this new lingo hurts my head.
    try to remember i ‘m am old guy,the kids have broken my rudder and lost one of my oars.
    not a full deck ect.

    nice to have a new post john mark
    have a nice trip
    be safe
    blessings rich in ca

  4.   Quiara Says:

    However, reading back over my comment, what I mean is that I very much appreciate your posts on this. They help me think — and they help me examine my own approach to scripture and tradition. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom, learning and gifts with us.

  5.   Veto Roley Says:

    I agree that the issue with CENI is the unwritten rules of the interpretive method. If CENI was just a “(1) a Baconian framework, (2) a legal goal (what is “authorized”) that invokes a legal hermeneutic designed for legal texts, and (3) a constitutional literary model of Scripture,” then I don’t think we would have the problem with the method that we do today.

    The ultimate problem with CENI is the ultimate issue with all of our hermeneutics. The ultimate problem with CENI is the interpreter and CENI is unable to handle this issue. The unwritten rules of CENI have little to do with the three objections above, although the three objections exacerbates the problem, but everything to do with the place and mindset of the interpreter.

    “Complications most arise when our sinful natures resist embracing God’s intent for our lives or we look for something that is not there (expecting something that God did not provide).” The problem with CENI is that the objections you list prevent the interpreter from seeing and understanding the filters and blocks he brings to the text. Bringing to the text a lawyer’s mindset blinds us to the flaws of our reasoning and wisdom and causes us to believe that we can observe the text with pure objectivity. Then, once we have made our ruling, the lawyer’s mindset prevents us from acknowledging the possible validity of other interpretations of the text.

    A reflective hermeneutic, on the other hand, forces us to acknowledge our filters and blocks prior to coming to the text. We understand that, as humans, we are fundamentally flawed, imperfect readers seeking after a perfect God. If we are going to find God, we understand that we must come to Him outside of our limitations and, unless we are willing to acknowledge and purge, surrendering to the work of God through theosis, our imperfect humanity, we understand that we can never come to a fuller knowledge of Him.

    Moreover, a reflective hermeneutic allows for tolerance of other viewpoints, even viewpoints that we feel miss the mark on the text. This is because we realize that we will be saddled with humanity’s imperfection as long as we breath. While we acknowledge our filters and flaws and allow God, through theosis, to make us over in His image, we understand that we never arrive as long as we are clothed by flesh. Because of this, we must acknowledge the possibility that we can be wrong on key doctrines and texts. So we continue to seek His face through prayer and the text and continue to examine ourselves to ensure that we do not deceive ourselves. And we do not condemn other pilgrims doing the same thing that we are doing.

    “Consequently, every hermeneutical adventure must begin with prayer.” In some ways I disagree with your choice of “adventure” here, for our approach to the text is part of our journey with Him. As we walk with Him, we seek to know and hear Him, through the text, through prayer and through quiet mediation. And, while I agree that every aspect of the journey begins with prayer and meditation, the journey only continues through prayer and meditation.

    “We read and then we reflect.” I believe the process starts with reflection, as we seek out God and ask Him to allow us to listen to the message He gave to us. We reflect on those things that might cause us to miss that message and on the journey to that point. We then approach the text and attempt to discern what the message was for the initial readers and what the message is for us today. We then go back to God asking the Holy Spirit to teach us “not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” so that “we may know the things freely given to us by God.”

    “Many think this introduces too much subjectivity in the hermeneutical act.” As long as we are honest with the text’s context, it is difficult to read our desires into the text. The context starts with the immediate text, which presents the idea of the author. It then precedes to the book, for each book was given as a stand-alone text, and then to the Bible, for God is the ultimate author of His message. Where we get too much subjectivity is when we do not remove our filters and blocks from the text. Our problems with the text do not arise from the text, nor do they arise from the Holy Spirit, who teaches us the text. Our problems arise from ourselves, which brings me back to one of my original points. The problem with any hermeneutic is the interpreter.

    Veto

  6.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    I think this hermeneutical method is as simple and complex as any other. The level of simplicity or complexity depends more on our familiarity with it. As you point out, because many of us are so familiar with the CEI method it appears as simple as reading and writing in English.

    One of the problems I have ran into when trying to offer Christians a better hermeneutical approach is that some believe the CEI has a more controlled (objective) outcomes. That is, we can isolate the command, example, and inference and no exactly what should be done. The problem with that line of thought is that any look at the CoC history and what we have divided over shows that the outcome is not as controllable as we would like. The other problem with that line of thinking is that wanting a controllable out come is very modern/enlightment. We want to be in control of the church rather than allowing the Spirit to take control.

    Thanks for the post!

    Rex

  7.   rich Says:

    It seems that our path of hermeneutical study, continues down the same road and in the same way through the same process.
    We primarily come to a kingdom that flesh and blood cannot inherit.
    From my perception that sets up a whole set of intangibles that I’m not prepared to deal with in any way shape or form.
    But throughout history the underlying intangibles of cultural hermeneutics, have shaped me and reconfigured me, in such a way, so that when I act out my cultural hermeneutic, it comes from a mindset of good and evil, that has been refined in soany conceptual ways, that the focal point of the intangibles as the unmerited favor and faithfulness of Christ and how those were put in action in a sinful world to free us, have been lost.

    I am told to take on the divine nature which is separate and apart from this convoluted world of hermeneutics that I live in, good and evil.
    I have learned over the years, good being white and evil being black, new, from the point of view of the church at these are clearly defined by Scripture.
    can elders drink wine, can elders be cught in a bar. Should my church havekitchen, can Paul be an elder because he left his wife.
    How do I help will widows and orphans, what’s the scriptural criteria for that.

    I guess when the apostles didn’t have a house, and when the apostles only took a coat or two.

    There was a totally different cultural hermeneutic.

    From our subjective point of view how much are we leveraged in to this culture by way of all that tangible things such as houses cars toilets toilet paper.
    That demand of each and every one of us by way of financial leverage and obligation, to think first of the kingdom of God, and then all the intangibles will be added to you.

    I’m being a little facetiously sarcastic here, the point being every one of us has our flaws every one of us has our and only as we come together and Fellowship, anyway to me, and get to know our brother from an honest point of view, can we hope that all to draw nearer to the kingdom and find the intangibles that have been lost or put to the side as being less expedient, than paying for a building, and busting up the Lord’s church,
    because I think I have a handle on good.
    It becomes a shameful way he of conducting ourselves, I feel fortunate to have found my way out of the entrapment of the legal hermeneutic.
    Culturally devised, by goodhearted men, trying to defined the gray area at the expense of the intangibles.
    Yes we have a cultural hermeneutic that is so totally wrong and ethically corrupt that makes my point of view the right point of view.
    That conceit is the game of the day.
    And if I don’t break the speed limit five times on the way to church Sunday morning I’m goin l be late this morning. And God only knows who’s got a win that football game basketball game or tennis match or I’ve got to get over to the family for dinner this afternoon because his uncle Chuck’s birthday, and if the preacher goes over I’m just say something.

    We all know this happens the point is who is teaching the membership this.
    But then how wrong is it.
    That seems to be the question.
    Comes down to that intangible I think desire.
    We have a desire or suggest something that we do that’s a rhetorical question.

    Granted most of you guys probably have a lot more gray area than I do.
    And the complexity of working out a scriptural hermeneutic is not easy.
    Especially when we don’t first put priorities where they belong let me ask you a question.
    The same question I asked myself.
    How did I do find the word of God 30 years ago.
    I would consider myself now maybe 40 years ago, a good number of the church conservative anti-organizational church.
    What’s changed, I don’t think it was the Scripture.
    Might be the difference between fear and love.
    I don’t mind making a mistake trying to do good.

    As long as my heart’s in the right place,
    think that’s about the best way to put it is your heart in the right place.
    If you’re a legalist at the expense of your brother I would wonder if your hearts in the right place.
    Whose blood is it anyway.

    Blessings rich in California

  8.   hoopster Says:

    I wouldn’t call it complicated so much as academic. My question to the theological community is “need Christianity be academic?” Don’t get me wrong. I like what you wrote, and I’m glad you are out there offering a CENI alternative. I’ve seen the argument for CENI be, “well, Hoopster, what alternative do you offer of interpreting the Bible.”

    In actuality what being interpreted is “how to do church hour”. (I should clarify that I am a former anti for lack of a better term among a very conservative group where there weren’t very many deep theological discussions–discussions were more about, “brother so and so not thinking it scriptural to have a woman be a door greeter.”)

    Is Christianity a puzzle to be solved? Is my ability to solve the puzzle of how to do church “scripturally” affect my salvation? In order for me to remain part of Christianity, I have to answer “no”. I have to answer that if “doing church right” were so important, and our salvation depended on getting it right, God would have told us how to do it explicitly. He simply didn’t. Maybe how we do life is profoundly more important and is what marks us as Christians.

    I have a feeling though that this blog was written with that in mind. I appreciate a hermeneutic that helps us do LIFE better.

    P. S. I enjoyed your book on the Lord’s Supper. It seems to have lost it’s meaning in modern times without the entire meal there to reflect on.

  9.   rich Says:

    It seems that our path of hermeneutical study, continues down the same road and in the same way through the same process.

    i read this again

    john mark although you know how well i write.ha,ha. boy !

    if you thought this comment was ment as anything other than a general comment on our hermeneuticial predisposition in the church .

    well ……
    you aught to know better

    blessings my brother
    rich

  10. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Jeff,

    I appreciate your witty and cute response–indeed, I’m still chuckling. :-) However, I think it is misleading in the sense that “recontextualizing the metanarrative” is a parenthetical use of technical terminology. The “simple” language is apply the story! :-) But more to come on that as well as against the background of the previous series.

  11. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Veto,

    Thanks for reading the piece so carefully. I will offer a few brief remarks on your post.

    I think I suggested that the problem is both interpreter and method. Method can hinder, misdirect, mislead, create unnecessary problems, etc. But the interpreter is also a problem–it is a problem of sanctification. We are fallible, limited and often mistaken interpreters. Thsi is the point I made about subjectivity and we are in agreement, I think.

    I would disagree that the unwritten rules of CEI have little to do with the three assumptions I mentioned and you quoted. I think the rules of CEI emerge out of those assumptions and are bound up the the debates over “binding examples,” etc. I should have added a fourth, however–and it is part of my series on the subject–the Reformed regulative principle (Puritan version).

    Adventure or Journey? I regard them as overlapping synonyms…either works for me as they both emphasize something a little different. In fact, I use both though not in this essay.

    “Read and reflect” or “reflect and read”? Both. My “read and reflect” was not a legal prescription about what comes first but illustrative of the process. I would suggest that “where we begin” is a moot question; we have already begun. We are already in the process of reflecting and reading, reading and reflecting, etc. It is a hermeneutial spiral which reciprocally influences the process itself.

    I find that even in my best moments of honesty, I still find ways to get my “stuff” into the text or out of the text. That is why I need communal dialogue–both present and historic, both virtual and face-to-face. I think it is easy to put something into the text that is not there even when we are brutely honest. This is part of our fallibility. And this is the need we have for the presence of the Spirit in reading and reflecting (or reflecting and reading). The hermeneutical act, as a Spiritual act, is a cooperative process between God, myself and the community.

    Every hermeneutic has a problem. A human being utilizes it. This is the problem of fallibility and subjectivity. In addition, it may be a bad hermeneutic itself! Both are problems. The grace for both is that God saves us through faith and is at work in us by his Spirit to bring us to himself–and hermeneutics is but one aspect of that, of course.

  12. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Rex,

    I agree. Every hermeneutic has its simple and complex dimensions since every hermeneutic has had some popular appeal (its simple dimensions) and buys into philosophical assumptions of some sort (complexity).

    It is the nature of the complexity and simplicity that becomes the concern. For example, is it simple because it isolates and treats the text of Scripture in ways it was never intended to be treated? It may be simple in terms of isolating “X” but at the same time the isolation distorts “X” so now it means something very different than intended by the authors.

    Also, is the complexity one of unpacking the assumptions (e.g., what “recontexualizing the metanarrative” might mean in a postmodern context) or is the complexity one of identifying the rules, mixed application of those rules in divisive ways, and constructs of meaning for those rules (e.g., temple-building).

  13. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Hoopster,

    Exactly, my friend. I’m interested in a hermeneutic that applies the whole story to the whole of life so that we might become the images of God in the world for the sake of the world.

    I’m not interested in a hermeneutic that is fundamentally oriented toward defining the “positive laws” of Christianity (as I talked about in my Stone-Campbell Hermeneutics series). That hermeneutic is not only misguided (in terms of what it is searching for) but it compartmentalizes Christianity.

    I resist that Christianity is a puzzle to be solved, as you do. I think a better metaphor is a story to be lived; a story in which we live. That calls for a different hermeneutic than one that would solve a puzzle. The puzzle-mentality is part of Lamar’s “temple-building” analogy; the story metaphor is more consistent with the nature of Scripture itself, I think.

  14. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Richard,

    The questions we want answered will sometimes determine our hermeneutic. And you recounting of something your history is illustrative of that.

    Perhaps we should see what the “weightier matters” within Scripture are to discern the hermeneutic that prioritizes them and how it was lived out in Israel, the ministry of Jesus and the early church.

    This where I am heading in my next couple of posts….more to come.

  15. Profile photo of matthewmorine  Matthew Says:

    I remember listening to you lecture about your new book on baptism. It was at Lipscomb for a special series. I remember you using the ideas of moral and positive law. I always wondered why there was grace for moral failure but not for doctrinal failures. It was a grace event for me.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  16.   RICH Says:

    It is a hermeneutial spiral which reciprocally influences the process itself.

    just a great set o words,

    so true

    rich

  17. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    I think the difference between moral and positive law is exactly the assumption that lies behind our “instrumental music will send you to hell” (positive law) while “gossiping” or “greed” or “killing someone in war” (depending on your view, of course) or racism (we “understand” past fralities and social contexts, etc.) does not send one to hell if they are wholeheartedly–to the best of their knowledge–seeking God. I explain the difference between the two in #5 of the Stone-Campbell Hermeneutics series, I think. Yes, here is the link.

    http://johnmarkhicks.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/stone-campbell-hermeneutics-v-moral-and-positive-law/

  18.   preacherman Says:

    Wonderful words for us.
    I really enjoyed the series.
    It wasn’t complicated at all.
    I totally got your point.
    And agree.
    Keep up the great job you do with this blog.
    May you have a blessed week!

  19.   rich constant Says:

    My series has assumed that Churches of Christ are at a hermeneutical crossroads.

    It is a hermeneutial spiral which reciprocally influences the process itself.

    John Mark let’s take this phrase and
    re- conceptualize it.
    Here is an analogy if I live in North America, and I have a drain in a big tub of water, the water spins down the drain from right to left. If I live in Australia the water goes down from left to right.

    We take that hermeneutic of moral and positive law, as your hermeneutical spiral which reciprocally influences the process itself, and spiral out from the point of collapse and spiral out from the point that hermeneutic collapses upon itself.
    One of the ways I see to do that is at what point.
    Does that hermeneutic violate are two primary commands new covenant law based in faithfulness. Not just trust.
    Put God first and foremost.
    Love your brother as yourself.
    If you prefer to look at Jesus as spiritual Israel, putting God first and foremost, and loving to do the will of God which was the redemption of man.
    Through being a servant of God for man.

    To me that would be simple enough to understand.
    Yes?

    The collapse seems very simple, although there are so many aspects and variations it seems mind-boggling.
    One of my primary issues is faithfulness as you know, I believe this to be a singularity a universal singularity.
    I can ramble for about another hour.
    When I used to go to Alcoholics Anonymous my sponsor was a real whack job.
    Had an IQ of about 185.
    He would look at me and he just kind of Laugh,
    then he would say rich
    ” FIRST their step one,
    THEN step two.”

    it’s always a place to start, that’s the hardest to PLACEfind
    Blessings rich in California.

  20.   rich constant Says:

    But the history of Churches of Christ reveals the illusion. It is not simple. Our history is strewn with divisions over the application of this method–one or multiple cups at communion, Bible classes or no Bible classes, may assemblies be divided, handclapping, instrumental music, Bible Colleges, use of church treasury, kitchens in the building, etc., etc., etc. All involved the tweaking and use of CEI. The application was not so simple.

    At some point in time, as the passions of men were involved in the most high calling, I just feel so bad about this, anyway what I’m saying is that the love of God through Christ by the spirit for men will not be reciprocated by the established church.
    And that’s a very very sad thought to me.
    So I think I’ll meditate on that ask for a lot of help.
    What a daunting task.
    Blessings my brother

  21. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Richard,

    My reciprocal comment was related to the process of “reading” and “reflecting.” That is the hermeneutical spiral.

    But I agree that any hermeneutic must submit to the criteria of “loving God” and “loving our neighbor”–the first and second commands. This is essentially my point in the earlier series that the hermeneutical applications must not contradict the theological substance of the metanarrative. If it does, then there is something wrong with the hermeneutic.

  22.   rich constant Says:

    oops!

    i only got 1/2 wrong thats not so bad.
    thanks
    now those words make more sence

    thank you
    blessings

    john mark

  23.   rich constant Says:

    Through prayer, the transforming work of the Spirit, and communal dialogue, perhaps we can read Scripture in a way that enables us to participate in the theodrama to which Scripture bears witness. This is my hermeneutical goal and I hope this series will draw us into the story so that we might embody the metanarrative in our own lives for the sake of the world in which we live.

    You have no idea how much I am leveraged into this.
    You might have a little.
    Although every aspect of my family life has been an engaged in be working through this hermeneutic in my own way.
    This says nothing more than I’m confused, to my family.
    Which is absolutely right,
    the conceit of i’m right you’re wrong,
    and then every church that I took my wife to there would be the same underlying focal point.
    What I’m saying is that because of the impression of what the church is from my wife Lori’s point of view, which is there is nothing but strife in contention with these people quote unquote.
    And yes they are a denomination.
    She has been on an AOL message board for the church of Christ, I also have been on car on the church of Christ.
    I’m thanking God for you almost every day.
    A legalistic hermeneutic that ebbs and flows through with the church is so obvious in its contention that is causing so much difficulty and families including mine.
    I am finally feeling like I am finding Fellowship no matter how sparse it seems to be, to me it’s the rising of the MorningStar.
    Glory is just about and I really can’t blame are the only person that I really blame is myself for not being a better steward but I was a product of my environment and it’s taken me 30 years to work this out in my own way.
    I could look back and say I wish it were different.
    But I am who I am John Mark a walking contradiction all of us are it’s just to what degree so we have sanctification and the good Lord will judge that not you not me not my wife and each individual
    pardon my rambling John Mark.
    If you want to delete to suppose go right ahead just read it first it is really really necessary as far as I’m concerned for the church to get it together and I know I’m part of the church and I’m working on it
    but good Lord John Mark what happened
    i know you aready answered this…
    anyway I think I’ll go out and throw a rock in a glass house
    common sense………………………………………………………..

    As you can see this exasperates me I hope you get up better idea of where I’m coming from.

    Prayers always blessings John Mark you and yours rich in California.
    The

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