I was following a conversation thread online and was entertained by a random comment about someone taking a hermeneutics class. Immediately someone dived in to talk about how that was boring and how the process of hermeneutics got in the way of listening to a sermon and created a critical spirit. They just wanted the spirit of God to have freedom to move.... They, so they claimed, had no hermeneutic.
I was reminded of those who claim they have no 'creed but Christ' but never realize they have just defined a creed.
How disastrous is it that we 1) believe a hermeneutic interferes with a sermon; 2) believe a hermeneutic hinders the move of God; and 3) believe a hermeneutic creates a critical spirit.
1) Believe a hermeneutic interferes with a sermon
Politicians have been stereotyped for a particular style of campaigning that promised a "chicken in every pot." The constitution says Americans should be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Happiness is a cook pot with chicken and so therefore.... This tangled logic is akin to the nature of many sermons preached devoid of any attempt at a hermeneutic. Is that really what the text says? Who has preached without a sound application hermeneutics? Jim Jones, David Koresh, and any of a dozen other leaders of cult groups. Hmmm...is there a connection there between a lack of a sound hermeneutic and straying into what a previous generation termed "error'"?
2) Believe a hermeneutic hinders the move of God
Is this the same God who inspired Bible writers to say all things in worship should be done decently and in order? Even with the interpretation of scripture through a pentecostal or charismatic lens there is an expectation of order and knowledge (when the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter was able to preach a sermon and the see many added to the newly born congregation) and never is there any indication that such a blessing is accompanied by uncontrollable, wild, or outlandish actions. Indeed, the move of God is always accompanied by a call to 'test the fruit', to 'reason together', and to 'remember the first things.'
3) Believe a hermeneutic creates a critical spirit.
The largest hazard in churches today mirrors that of the larger culture and is an inability or unwillingness to apply rationale thought or simple thinking skills. We believe whatever we are told, no matter how bizarre, illogical or evil that thing may be. People have accepted preaching that said rape your children, marry your daughters, have sex with other partners, use drugs, and even take this poison and die. Is anyone really naive enough to believe that others preaching - minus a sound hermeneutic - might lead others astray? They might not go to those extremes, but sometimes, history has shown us, those extreme examples were birthed in a free and easy approach to scripture that went unchallenged.
God gave to us a brain - for a reason - and that reason was to learn, to search, to question, to evaluate, and understand. Truth can never be destroyed by the searchlight of examination, the Spirit of God can never be quenched by evaluating the spirits present, and a sermon can never be damaged by a hearers weighing its content and message against the totality of scripture.