I grew up in your standard Baptist Church, however at around 15 years of age I started reading through the Bible Chronologically at the prodding of our pastor. Well, the more I read the more I became confused at the differences between what was being taught and what the Text said. So I asked many many questions of the leadership. Most of the time they just shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” Which is an answer, it’s better than making something up I supposed, but the apathy that followed was unacceptable to me?
I figured the pastor and other leaders were just lazy or stupid, so I decided to go to Bible College. There I was sure I would find people who could answer my questions. However as they droned on and on their answers made no sense. All I could hear in the back of my head, “That is illogical Captain.” I have never been a very tactful person, so I pressed them about their logic and for explanations that would make sense. Well, to make a long story short, their reactions bordered on hostility, after all, “Who was I to question their authority?” I was shocked, I wasn’t questioning their authority, I was questioning their logic. So now I was labeled rebellious, when all I wanted was to understand the Bible.
Later I took Hermeneutics from another school and discovered the problem. They were mixing two conflicting schools of hermeneutic without realizing it. (So was the new school.) Most of them had a bases of what is called Tradition Protestant Interpretation, a.k.a. Progressive Revelationism, but they had mixed it with some of the teaching from, the Dispensational school of hermeneutics. These two schools are diametrically opposed to each other. Their preconceive notions cannot be reconciled. One must choose one or the other to be logical in ones approach to the Scriptures.
This problem continues to plague most Evangelical, Fundamentalist, congregations. Most people don’t have Spock living in their Brains. So most don’t know that they are doing it.
So what is your school of hermeneutic? Are you staying true to the one you believe has the best preconceived notions. Or have you never considered why you believe what you believe.
11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Eph. 4:11-16
Hermeneutics is all about the logical rules one uses to determine the meaning of a Text.
Parables are treated differently than historical passages. Poetry is often full of hyperbole and not as literal as one might think. Metaphors and similes do not make for good literal descriptions.
Everyone has preconceived notions, there is no way not to. They come from what we were taught as children, our emotions, our culture, and unfortunately sometimes our lack of knowledge. The trick is to be honest with ourselves about what all of them are.
If a preconceived notion is that the simplified version told to us as children was the whole truth, we may never actually see that it never says we go to heaven when we die.
If a preconceived notion is that our tribe, people, or nation, is so important that a prophecy must be about us, we may miss that it was addressed to others.
If a preconceived notion is that a prophecy is unfulfilled, then reading the history books to see how it was fulfilled will not happen.
Our preconceived notions can obviously destroy what the Text was meant to say. However the right rules can also keep one from making such a grave mistake.
See Also: General Hermeneutic
See Also: Prophetic Hermeneutic