Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hermeneutics Club

The first rule of Hermeneutics Club - don't talk about Hermeneutics Club!

No, wait.

First rule of hermeneutics is context, context, context. Who is the author? Who is the target audience? What do the verses before and after say? What is this paragraph (inferred from the text, our modern divisions are non-inspired) say? What does the chapter say? What is the book about?

An example in bad hermeneutics ("cherry picking"):
  • "And he [Judas] went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:5
  • "Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your native-place. " Luke 4:23
  • "Then Jesus said to him [Judas], What you do, do quickly." John 13:27
Now, it shouldn't take much to convince people this is a bad way to read the Bible (although you occasionally hear horror stories).

Hermeneutics is serious business. If we do not interpret the Bible rightly, we are going to act wrongly, or worse, believe wrongly. We will hurt ourselves and others, suffer needlessly, and bring disgrace to the name of our Lord Jesus.

Returning to the verse from yesterday (John 19:27):
"Then He said to the disciple [John], Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home. "
The context is the crucifixion. These are some of the last words of Jesus, spoken to His mother and beloved friend. They are immediately for their benefit. They are also recorded in John's gospel, so they are for our benefit as well.

Does that mean this command is directed to us as well?

What about the second part of the command, "take her into our house"? Does this mean we should have a statue of Mary? Kneel before it, and light candles, say prayers? These are things pagans do. When a pagan asks us about this, in light of Exodus 20:4-5, what do we say?

"It's not worship, it's veneration."

Uh-huh. And when modern man goes into Washington D.C. to "honor" all the statues and paintings, that's not worship either.


TheDen said...

Regarding Exodus 20, I think your doing some cherry picking yourself! The key verse is verse 3: "You shall not have other gods besides Me."

What God is saying is don't make idols and treat them as gods. There is only one God and He's it. The way verse 4 reads, it says not to make any carvings which is clearly not what God is saying as He directs later in Exodus to make the Ark of the Covenant with 2 cherubim on top.

Regarding worship, worship is reserved for God alone. Kneeling in front of a statue of Mary is not worship. It's asking her for help. It's asking her to pray for us. "Pray for us sinners...Now and at the hour of our death."

Regarding John 19, I agree that it talks about the crucifixion. In Catholic theology, the entire Church is brought together to Calvary to the crucified Body of Christ in the Mass. It's in the Eucharist that we unite ourselves to His Body and the Mass is a re-presentation of His sacrifice for us. (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26)

So, when John talks about the crucifixion, he's presenting the scene that we experience at every mass.

nedbrek said...

See how much strife! Over what should be a minor issue?

We'll take a break, and I will revisit this...