A New Hermeneutic?

William E. Epler

Galatians 5:7 - You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

There are many different pressures at work against the church. Who knows what will result from the Islamic efforts to destroy our democracy and control our nation?

In Biblical times, God used the people of what is now Iran and Iraq to punish his people. We are now beset by the ACLU and the disciples of Darwin to force the teaching of Creationism out of schools. This should alert us to be sure we are able to use the whole armor of God effectively.

When I read some reports of what is going on in the churches of Christ, I shudder. It was while I was preaching in California that the idea that we needed a new hermeneutic began. "Hermeneutic" simply means, "unfolding the meaning," "interpretation." We used the old "Let the Scriptures interpret the Scripture," and "Truth cannot contradict itself" hermeneutic. That worked pretty well in Utah confronting Mormonism. In a public confrontation, I pointed out their self-contradictions, but they could not find any in our doctrine. There were over two-dozen baptized then, and now there are three strong churches in that area.

A greater blessing was that I had to study the Bible itself. (There were only two preachers in the state at that time.) The late Horace Taylor who baptized me in '42 gave me good advice when I asked him how much Greek I had to know to be a preacher when he said, "You could study Greek for ten years, and you would still have to take the word of the authorities. You already have that in your Bible."

About 150 years ago there arose in Europe a question about inspiration and how we got the Scriptures. This was called the "Graf-Welhausen Documentary Hypothesis." Also, there was a "Search for the Historical Jesus." See the first volume of The Interpreter's Bible. As a result, many have lost confidence in the inspiration of the Bible. Unless we believe it to be truly God's word, we have no need for any hermeneutic.

We do need to re-examine some of our applications. We cannot expect to have a perfect congregation, but we have a perfect individual example to follow and to encourage others to follow: Jesus, the ruler of the kings of this earth, who has all power both in heaven and on earth. The early church and Jesus used the Old Testament Scriptures to convince unbelievers. There is a diamond mine of Gospel in them! Paul wrote, "When they turn to the LORD, the veil is removed." (2 Corinthians 3:14)

We do not need a "New Hermeneutic" we need to apply the one we have. (Comments may be addressed to: williamepler@verizon.net) -PO Box 661, Union, WV 24983.


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