Thursday, April 3, 2008

What Does It Mean To You?

Here is an interesting post on hermeneutics. If you are not a theologian, or don't know what that word means, don't let it scare you.

The author of the post argues that asking the question, "What does this mean to you" is not the best way to determine what a verse or passage in the Bible means.

On the other hand, when trying to determine the meaning of a text, we should try to figure out what the original author's purpose was in writing what he did. This way, we can determine THE meaning of the text, God's meaning.

This is not how many of us read the Bible. Churches for the most part, don't teach members that there is a correct way to read the Scripture and an incorrect way. I don't claim to understand the correct way fully, but I sure do want to.

The reason I think this is so important is because I feel that God has called me to be involved in church planting. There is hardly a more critical area of church planting than discipleship and leadership training, in which learning how to read the Bible is central.

One of the most common methods of "doing church" internationally as espoused by many missionaries is participative Bible study. In this method, the participants read a passage of Scripture and try to find the meaning by discussing it and applying it to their lives. One of the problems with this method is that people come to believe that it does not matter what the author's original intent is. The most important thing is what my intent is, and what the passage means to me. The result is that any passage of Scripture can mean any thing to any person. This is how many missionaries are teaching new believers how to study the Scripture. This is how I taught people to read the Bible. In my opinion, this is a flawed method.

Now we get to the nitty gritty. I understand that this is a flawed method, but the question I have is, how do I teach new Christians the right way? For millions of new believers world wide, there is NO access to the internet, commentaries, hermeneutic text books, teachers, seminaries, consistent Biblical preaching, or anything else that my friends in seminary or my church take for granted. In many instances, there is a missionary, a new believer, and a Bible. How can I teach hermeneutics using these three things?

That's what I am here to find out. Thankfully, the Lord has not left us with only these three things. He has also given us a teacher, the author of the Bible, namely the Holy Spirit. Without Him, the task would be impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Oh yeah, don't forget to read the whole post that got me thinking about this stuff again. What do y'all think about all this?

1 comment:

Johnny and Alisha said...

Thanks for the great post. Your comments brought up a question that I have had for quite some time: How much time (if any) should a pastor spend teaching practical skills/topics like hermeneutics, apologetics, church history, etc? Or should this be done only in a setting like Sunday School instead?