Bible Interpretation (hermeneutics): The Historical-Critical Method

C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) -- Principles For Interpreting The Bible.

The Historical-Critical Method-- (a.k.a. name "higher criticism"/ theological liberalism). There are two kinds of liberalism operate:

  • a. Classical (radical) liberalism -- denies God's supernatural intervention in the world; hence, it denies the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, miracles, etc.

    • Unfortunately, the user of this method cannot accept the Bible's claim to be divinely inspired by God.

    b. Moderate (progressive) liberalism—The users see themselves as "moderates" perceive as standing between the "extremism of the left" (classical liberalism) and "the extremism of the right" (which they label as "fundamentalism" or "ultra conservativism").

    • Although moderate liberals reject classical liberalism's outright denial of supernatural events in the Bible
    • Nevertheless, they endorse liberalism's skepticism regarding the full inspiration, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible.

The Moderate (progressive) users BELIEVE that:

  • (a) The Bible is not fully inspired (i.e., some parts of the Bible are more inspired than others).
  • (b) The Bible is not fully trustworthy (because of alleged discrepancies, contradictions, and mistakes).
  • (c). The Bible is not absolutely authoritative in all that it teaches or touches upon (portions allegedly shaped by the personal or cultural prejudices of the writers and their times are "uninspired" and not binding on us).
  • (d) Because of the Bible's many human writers, there is "diversity" in Scripture (i.e., pluralism or conflicting theologies in the Bible).

Their GOAL of Interpretation.

  • a. Relying upon "reason dialoguing with Spirit" or "sanctified imagination."
  • b. They seek to reconstruct the meaning of Scripture by recreating the real-life situations, the various socio-cultural elements that allegedly shaped the biblical text in a long evolutionary development from its earliest stages to its present form.
  • c. In some cases, they may attempt to draw applications ("positive principles") for our time.

A stumbling block to biblical understanding and faithfulness to the text. CM

Comments

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:
    Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) -- Principles For Interpreting The Bible.

    The Historical-Critical Method-- (a.k.a. name "higher criticism"/ theological liberalism). There are two kinds of liberalism operate:

    * a. Classical (radical) liberalism -- denies God's supernatural intervention in the world; hence, it denies the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, miracles, etc.
    * Unfortunately, the user of this method cannot accept the Bible's claim to be divinely inspired by God.

    b. Moderate (progressive) liberalism—The users see themselves as "moderates" perceive as standing between the "extremism of the left" (classical liberalism) and "the extremism of the right" (which they label as "fundamentalism" or "ultra conservativism").
    * Although moderate liberals reject classical liberalism's outright denial of supernatural events in the Bible
    * Nevertheless, they endorse liberalism's skepticism regarding the full inspiration, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible.

    The Moderate (progressive) users BELIEVE that:

    • (a) The Bible is not fully inspired (i.e., some parts of the Bible are more inspired than others).
    • (b) The Bible is not fully trustworthy (because of alleged discrepancies, contradictions, and mistakes).
    • (c). The Bible is not absolutely authoritative in all that it teaches or touches upon (portions allegedly shaped by the personal or cultural prejudices of the writers and their times are "uninspired" and not binding on us).
    • (d) Because of the Bible's many human writers, there is "diversity" in Scripture (i.e., pluralism or conflicting theologies in the Bible).

    Their GOAL of Interpretation.

    • a. Relying upon "reason dialoguing with Spirit" or "sanctified imagination."
    • b. They seek to reconstruct the meaning of Scripture by recreating the real-life situations, the various socio-cultural elements that allegedly shaped the biblical text in a long evolutionary development from its earliest stages to its present form.
    • c. In some cases, they may attempt to draw applications ("positive principles") for our time.

    A stumbling block to biblical understanding and faithfulness to the text. CM

    Thanks CM!

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    Dave,
    Have we not seen some of the above manifest itself over the years, here at CD? Is it any wonder we seem to be going in circles in our discussions, ever moving and not going anywhere. Users of this method need to reconsider another way of mining the Scriptures. A better-balanced method is ... CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    Have we not seen some of the above manifest itself over the years, here at CD? Is it any wonder we seem to be going in circles in our discussions, ever moving and not going anywhere. Users of this method need to reconsider another way of mining the Scriptures. A better-balanced method is ... CM

    The old Logos forum had more diversity in numbers. But I believe the common error in bible interpretation comes from looking for scripture to bolster an idea. We have shortcuts in books and creeds that can put us years ahead in forming our beliefs. But these always carry the risk of providing false doctrine among the truths we glean from them.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    Have we not seen some of the above manifest itself over the years, here at CD? Is it any wonder we seem to be going in circles in our discussions, ever moving and not going anywhere. Users of this method need to reconsider another way of mining the Scriptures. A better-balanced method is ... CM

    The old Logos forum had more diversity in numbers. But I believe the common error in bible interpretation comes from looking for scripture to bolster an idea. We have shortcuts in books and creeds that can put us years ahead in forming our beliefs. But these always carry the risk of providing false doctrine among the truths we glean from them.

    Dave,
    You have a point. However, "diversity in numbers" can't and must not overrides balanced or correct Principles For Interpreting The Bible. There must be a standard! A true reading out of text with the acknowledgment of presuppositions (See my posting on this topic) of the interpreter. How can one begin to interpret the Word if one cannot "accept the Bible's claim to be divinely inspired by God"?

    @Dave_L said: "We have shortcuts in books and creeds that can put us years ahead in forming our beliefs".

    As time passes, when we know better, we should do better. In my humble opinion (IMHOP), the Historical-grammatical Method is such a "Balanced Method of Interpretation". See my initial posts on this topic in the forums.

    Needless to say, it's best if one studies the text for him or herself. Let me hasten to say, books that follow a "balanced method" of interpretation can be used as a support to aid one's understanding.

    However, like a good meal or bread, one doesn't have to make or cook every time to eat. A word of caution: One needs to be aware of the book or commentary author's presuppositions before consuming his content. Happy reading and fruitful study! CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    Have we not seen some of the above manifest itself over the years, here at CD? Is it any wonder we seem to be going in circles in our discussions, ever moving and not going anywhere. Users of this method need to reconsider another way of mining the Scriptures. A better-balanced method is ... CM

    The old Logos forum had more diversity in numbers. But I believe the common error in bible interpretation comes from looking for scripture to bolster an idea. We have shortcuts in books and creeds that can put us years ahead in forming our beliefs. But these always carry the risk of providing false doctrine among the truths we glean from them.

    Dave,
    You have a point. However, "diversity in numbers" can't and must not overrides balanced or correct Principles For Interpreting The Bible. There must be a standard! A true reading out of text with the acknowledgment of presuppositions (See my posting on this topic) of the interpreter. How can one begin to interpret the Word if one cannot "accept the Bible's claim to be divinely inspired by God"?

    @Dave_L said: "We have shortcuts in books and creeds that can put us years ahead in forming our beliefs".

    As time passes, when we know better, we should do better. In my humble opinion (IMHOP), the Historical-grammatical Method is such a "Balanced Method of Interpretation". See my initial posts on this topic in the forums.

    Needless to say, it's best if one studies the text for him or herself. Let me hasten to say, books that follow a "balanced method" of interpretation can be used as a support to aid one's understanding.

    However, like a good meal or bread, one doesn't have to make or cook every time to eat. A word of caution: One needs to be aware of the book or commentary author's presuppositions before consuming his content. Happy reading and fruitful study! CM

    Thanks for the replies. There's always a trade off. Even with the most reliable books and creeds. It's like America these days. Trading freedom for security. We trade some of the freedom truth provides for the security of creeds that might be right for the most part but always seem to have a glitch here and there. But these too came through sound interpretive methods for the most part.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    Dave,
    I don't know exactly what point you're trying to make at this point. However, no creed can or should ever exceed the Bible. There is no trade-off for a creed in lure for the unadulterated Word. Any works: be it a sermon, books, documents, articles or creeds, don't lead or exult the Bible, it or they, must be put in their place and/or discarded. CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    I don't know exactly what point you're trying to make at this point. However, no creed can or should ever exceed the Bible. There is no trade-off for a creed in lure for the unadulterated Word. Any works: be it a sermon, books, documents, articles or creeds, don't lead or exult the Bible, it or they, must be put in their place and/or discarded. CM

    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

  • reformedreformed Posts: 1,983

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    I don't know exactly what point you're trying to make at this point. However, no creed can or should ever exceed the Bible. There is no trade-off for a creed in lure for the unadulterated Word. Any works: be it a sermon, books, documents, articles or creeds, don't lead or exult the Bible, it or they, must be put in their place and/or discarded. CM

    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Like Infant Baptism?

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:
    Dave,
    I don't know exactly what point you're trying to make at this point. However, no creed can or should ever exceed the Bible. There is no trade-off for a creed in lure for the unadulterated Word. Any works: be it a sermon, books, documents, articles or creeds, don't lead or exult the Bible, it or they, must be put in their place and/or discarded. CM

    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Like Infant Baptism?

    That would be one doctrine that keeps me from joining traditionally Reformed or Presbyterian churches. But I believe they have doctrinal precision in other areas that I rely on daily.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:
    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Dave,
    "Truth suffers" when men deviate from the Word (Bible, best-preserved translations) and a balanced method of interpretation. Without regurgitating the discussion on creeds, may I suggest, divorcing yourself from any creed and let the Bible be its own interpreter?

    @reformed said: "Like Infant Baptism"?

    Reformed,
    Deviation from the Word of God can lead to a multitude of unbiblical teachings and practices, "Infant Baptism" being the least of them. e.g " tongues speaking, the immortality of the soul, purgatory, etc., to name a few. "Walk in the light..." CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:
    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Dave,
    "Truth suffers" when men deviate from the Word (Bible, best-preserved translations) and a balanced method of interpretation. Without regurgitating the discussion on creeds, may I suggest, divorcing yourself from any creed and let the Bible be its own interpreter?

    @reformed said: "Like Infant Baptism"?

    Reformed,
    Deviation from the Word of God can lead to a multitude of unbiblical teachings and practices, "Infant Baptism" being the least of them. e.g " tongues speaking, the immortality of the soul, purgatory, etc., to name a few. "Walk in the light..." CM

    If you cannot hold a church accountable not to stray beyond their charter, you are open for every wind of doctrine.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:
    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Dave,
    "Truth suffers" when men deviate from the Word (Bible, best-preserved translations) and a balanced method of interpretation. Without regurgitating the discussion on creeds, may I suggest, divorcing yourself from any creed and let the Bible be its own interpreter?

    @reformed said: "Like Infant Baptism"?

    Reformed,
    Deviation from the Word of God can lead to a multitude of unbiblical teachings and practices, "Infant Baptism" being the least of them. e.g " tongues speaking, the immortality of the soul, purgatory, etc., to name a few. "Walk in the light..." CM

    If you cannot hold a church accountable not to stray beyond their charter, you are open for every wind of doctrine.

    Dave,
    Fear not, let the Bible be your guide. "Don't put the cart before the horse", Bible first, church or creed second. In the beginning, God! Follow His revealed truth. You don't have to grope in darkness. CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @C_M_ said:

    @Dave_L said:

    @C_M_ said:

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:
    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Dave,
    "Truth suffers" when men deviate from the Word (Bible, best-preserved translations) and a balanced method of interpretation. Without regurgitating the discussion on creeds, may I suggest, divorcing yourself from any creed and let the Bible be its own interpreter?

    @reformed said: "Like Infant Baptism"?

    Reformed,
    Deviation from the Word of God can lead to a multitude of unbiblical teachings and practices, "Infant Baptism" being the least of them. e.g " tongues speaking, the immortality of the soul, purgatory, etc., to name a few. "Walk in the light..." CM

    If you cannot hold a church accountable not to stray beyond their charter, you are open for every wind of doctrine.

    Dave,
    Fear not, let the Bible be your guide. "Don't put the cart before the horse", Bible first, church or creed second. In the beginning, God! Follow His revealed truth. You don't have to grope in darkness. CM

    This is the problem. JWs say the same. But creeds are a guarantee you will at least not be led astray on most pivotal doctrines.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,260

    @Dave_L said:
    This is the problem. JWs say the same.

    They have their creed ... as other denominations have their respective creeds. So then, why should one denomination's creed be "safe" and "correct and true Biblical doctrine" whereas other denominations' creeds are not?

    But creeds are a guarantee you will at least not be led astray on most pivotal doctrines.

    I would say that the creeds of the 4th century AD councils are the result of trinitarian heresy being pushed by certain church political powers and those creeds have led millions of people astray into a kind of "man made 'christian' faith" and away from the Bible and its very simply plain truth that NOT THREE but ONLY ONE ALONE is the true God of the Bible.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,174

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Dave_L said:
    This is the problem. JWs say the same.

    They have their creed ... as other denominations have their respective creeds. So then, why should one denomination's creed be "safe" and "correct and true Biblical doctrine" whereas other denominations' creeds are not?

    But creeds are a guarantee you will at least not be led astray on most pivotal doctrines.

    I would say that the creeds of the 4th century AD councils are the result of trinitarian heresy being pushed by certain church political powers and those creeds have led millions of people astray into a kind of "man made 'christian' faith" and away from the Bible and its very simply plain truth that NOT THREE but ONLY ONE ALONE is the true God of the Bible.

    If I were a JW I would hold them accountable to their creed so they don't slip in some truth here and there. The same for those who are beyond the reach of the ecumenical creeds.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    Dave,
    You can only change yourself. Follow the Bible teachings. The Bible truth drives the train and not a church's creed. Do you need a Pope over you? "We have a High Priest..." CM

  • reformedreformed Posts: 1,983

    @C_M_ said:

    @reformed said:

    @Dave_L said:
    The point I'm making is that even with the most reliable method of interpretation comes error. There is safety in churches you can hold to a creed. But even then there are trade-offs. Some of the best creeds guarantee safety in some of the more critical doctrines but there's always a place or two where truth suffers.

    Dave,
    "Truth suffers" when men deviate from the Word (Bible, best-preserved translations) and a balanced method of interpretation. Without regurgitating the discussion on creeds, may I suggest, divorcing yourself from any creed and let the Bible be its own interpreter?

    @reformed said: "Like Infant Baptism"?

    Reformed,
    Deviation from the Word of God can lead to a multitude of unbiblical teachings and practices, "Infant Baptism" being the least of them. e.g " tongues speaking, the immortality of the soul, purgatory, etc., to name a few. "Walk in the light..." CM

    I would hardly say infant baptism is the least of them considering it is a perversion of one of only two sacraments of the church. That is a BIG deal.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    @reformed said:

    I would hardly say infant baptism is the least of them considering it is a perversion of one of only two sacraments of the church. That is a BIG deal.

    Please, explain yourself. The "only two sacraments", of what church? Also, how do you define sacraments?

    When I said least, I was being gingerly. A perversion is a perversion. It can't be dismissed or spiritually codified. CM

  • reformedreformed Posts: 1,983

    @C_M_ said:

    @reformed said:

    I would hardly say infant baptism is the least of them considering it is a perversion of one of only two sacraments of the church. That is a BIG deal.

    Please, explain yourself. The "only two sacraments", of what church? Also, how do you define sacraments?

    When I said least, I was being gingerly. A perversion is a perversion. It can't be dismissed or spiritually codified. CM

    Sacraments of the church meaning baptism and the Lord's supper.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,580

    Reformed Posts: 1,953
    May 1
    @ C_M_ said:
    Infant Baptism, is it biblical?
    What is its history?
    Is it practiced today? If so, why? If not, why not?

    No, it is not biblical. It's practiced today because they say it replaces circumcision and circumcision happened at birth. But there is no biblical backing for infant baptism at all, nor is there any evidence that the early church practiced it either.

    @ C_M_ Posts: 2,538

    May 3
    David,
    You're so right!

    One more note from the pages of history speaks against Infant Baptism. Gregory of Nyssa [shared the common belief that man is free and responsible for the entrance and continuation of sin.] repudiated original guilt in his opposition to infant baptism, but he introduced a curious mixture of cherished Eastern proclivities and Western traducianism which indicates some foreshadowing of Augustinianism.

    Infants who die are placed beyond the reach of God’s punishments. "Gregory's humane and reasonable suggestion of some state analogous to what was later called the limbus puerorum, as the solution of this problem, stands in the most vivid contrast to the heartless fanaticism with which Augustine condemns unbaptized little ones to eternal fire, and is the surest warrant that he was completely out of sympathy with the theory which impelled the Doctor of Hippo to this gruesome conclusion." CM

    SOURCE:

    Norman Powell Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1927), pp. 282, 279.

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