1. Hmmm . . .
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    Hermeneutics and Faith

    Hermeneutics is the craft of interpretation, especially of texts; it consists of the guidelines we adopt when “unpacking” a text in order to answer the question: “What can this mean? How can I understand it?” All textual reading is hermeneutical. Further, it seems that our existential stance toward ourselves and the world we live in is also hermeneutical: we are constantly seeking to interpret what we see, what others say, the workings of our own mind.

    A simple example from Biblical exegesis: how are we to interpret the Biblical (especially New Testament) concept of “faith?” How do we understand it?

    The underlying Greek word is pistis, whose basic meaning is trust, confidence, trustworthiness (the basic verb form pisteo: “to faith&rdquo😉. It has been translated into English as “faith” (from the Latin fide) and “belief.” Belief seems originally to have had a complex of meanings: to hold dear, to love, to trust, to give permission. [John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins] However, in modern usage, “to believe” has also come to mean “to suppose or to think,” “to take as real or true.” [Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Third Edition] If someone uses the word “believe” in these senses, they are putting a new “spin” or interpretation on the original NT concept.

    My own interpretation of “faith” follows somewhat from Soren Kierkegaard’s claim that faith is a “leap,” an active decision. So I define faith as a) a decision made, b) based on whatever evidence, c) under conditions of uncertainty; and the willingness to act on that decision. That is, to make a decision and to act confidently on it, even though the outcome is uncertain—that is what a quarterback does when he throws the long pass.

    Hermeneutical understandings are always, in the final analysis, provisional. Like faith, they are never beyond question; there is always the possibility of new evidence, conditions must be re-assessed, decisions made again and again. To move from an interpretive understanding to saying something like, "So God must...," or "God necessarily will...," or “This is what you must believe,” is always, I think, a fundamental error.

    Comments welcome.
  2. Standard memberDarfius
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    13 Mar '05 16:58
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Hermeneutics and Faith

    Hermeneutics is the craft of interpretation, especially of texts; it consists of the guidelines we adopt when “unpacking” a text in order to answer the question: “What can this mean? How can I understand it?” All textual reading is hermeneutical. Further, it seems that our existential stance toward ourselves and the world we li ...[text shortened]... is what you must believe,” is always, I think, a fundamental error.

    Comments welcome.
    I'm not clear where you are going with this. Are you attempting to say that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not necessary?
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Mar '05 19:081 edit
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I'm not clear where you are going with this. Are you attempting to say that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not necessary?
    First, I am saying that there is little, if anything, that is not subject to interpretation. This does not imply that we should be careless: on the contrary, it implies that we should take great care, and should be humble in our declarations of “the truth.” As Paul said in First Corinthians, “For we know only in part [partially, incompletely].” Therefore, I will try to offer only my interpretations, my understandings—and my questions.

    Second, I offered one possible hermeneutical understanding of the word “faith” itself, pointing to underlying Greek meanings, and the idea that we also have to be watchful of how the English language itself might change over time, as well as the multiple meanings English words may have. It was by no means exhaustive; it was intended as an example of a linguistic approach, and linguistics is certainly not the only hermeneutical tool. I tried to capture both the basic meaning of pistis as trust or confidence, and the notion of faith as a decision under conditions of uncertainty—which implies both risk and courage.

    Third, I am not prepared to make a declaration about what is necessary for any individual's salvation. I do maintain that any such declarations are fundamentally hermeneutical, in that they are based on how one interprets, compares, weights different Biblical texts—and also how much one may recognize, and how one may draw upon, ecclesial (apostolic) tradition regarding Biblical interpretation.

    I suppose “where I’m going with this” is simply that none of us knows the mind of God; all we know—all we can know—is our understanding of whatever God may choose to reveal for our understanding.
  4. Standard memberDarfius
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    13 Mar '05 19:27
    Originally posted by vistesd
    First, I am saying that there is little, if anything, that is not subject to interpretation. This does not imply that we should be careless: on the contrary, it implies that we should take great care, and should be humble in our declarations of “the truth.” As Paul said in First Corinthians, “For we know only in part [partially, incompletely].” Therefore ...[text shortened]... n know—is our understanding of whatever God may choose to reveal for our understanding.
    I reject that idea. The Bible is crystal clear when my Lord Jesus says:

    14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. -John
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Mar '05 19:511 edit
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I reject that idea. The Bible is crystal clear when my Lord Jesus says:

    14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am [b]the
    way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. -John[/b]
    And I might respond that “by me” (Greek: di’, through, by, by means of) means by the action of Christ, not any action on your part.

    I would also offer John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to [with or in company with] myself.” Now this appears to be a pretty universal statement. A hermeneutical question for me (that I am still working on) is this: To what extent is it appropriate to “water down” such a universal statement by searching out passages that limit it, or that indicate exceptions? Or, how much is such a statement limited by context (both Jesus and Paul, for example, seemed to give fairly universal answers to sometimes narrowly specific questions)? Or, to what extent does such a universal statement “trump,” as it were, exceptions, limitations or qualifiers that might be evident in other passages? This is what I meant by how we “weight” different passages of scripture, as well as how we read the individual passages. (Again, for me this hermeneutical question is still an open one, and I will likely be exploring it for some time.)

    So, what you understand as being pretty clear-cut, I do not see as being so clear-cut. Yet both of us are attempting to read and understand “in good faith.” We might reach an impasse (which has certainly happened a lot in church history). But if we do, it would not be because I insist that my reading is the only “right” one, but because it is still the best understanding that I have.
  6. Donationkirksey957
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    13 Mar '05 19:54
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I reject that idea. The Bible is crystal clear when my Lord Jesus says:

    14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am [b]the
    way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. -John[/b]
    But I can read that and come up with a different interpretation of what Jesus meant.
  7. Felicific Forest
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    13 Mar '05 20:15
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    But I can read that and come up with a different interpretation of what Jesus meant.

    Such as ?
  8. Donationkirksey957
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    13 Mar '05 21:07
    Originally posted by ivanhoe

    Such as ?
    Such as "the way" is Jesus' way in deed. The "truth" is Jesus' way in truth and integrity. For example, it is entirely permissable in my understanding of the verse that a devout Hindu may manifest more of Jesus' ethics than a Christian. Let me refer you to the "Deliver me, Jesus" thread and ask if you think any of the quotes there well represent Christ. Do you think it possible that say Ghandi might have more represented the spirit of Christ's teachings than say Benny Hinn?
  9. Felicific Forest
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    13 Mar '05 21:31
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    Such as "the way" is Jesus' way in deed. The "truth" is Jesus' way in truth and integrity. For example, it is entirely permissable in my understanding of the verse that a devout Hindu may manifest more of Jesus' ethics than a Christian. Let me refer you to the "Deliver me, Jesus" thread and ask if you think any of the quotes there well represe ...[text shortened]... at say Ghandi might have more represented the spirit of Christ's teachings than say Benny Hinn?

    Of course !
  10. Standard memberDarfius
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    14 Mar '05 04:09
    And I might respond that “by me” (Greek: di’, through, by, by means of) means by the action of Christ, not any action on your part.

    Fair enough, so your claim is that He sacrificed Himself on the cross so that everyone could get into Heaven? Evem those who scoff at Him and murder rampantly?

    I would also offer John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to [with or in company with] myself.” Now this appears to be a pretty universal statement. A hermeneutical question for me (that I am still working on) is this: To what extent is it appropriate to “water down” such a universal statement by searching out passages that limit it, or that indicate exceptions? Or, how much is such a statement limited by context (both Jesus and Paul, for example, seemed to give fairly universal answers to sometimes narrowly specific questions)? Or, to what extent does such a universal statement “trump,” as it were, exceptions, limitations or qualifiers that might be evident in other passages? This is what I meant by how we “weight” different passages of scripture, as well as how we read the individual passages. (Again, for me this hermeneutical question is still an open one, and I will likely be exploring it for some time.)

    You want to take one sentence out of context of the entire Bible? Wow. That's Russian roulette with only one empty chamber.

    So, what you understand as being pretty clear-cut, I do not see as being so clear-cut. Yet both of us are attempting to read and understand “in good faith.” We might reach an impasse (which has certainly happened a lot in church history). But if we do, it would not be because I insist that my reading is the only “right” one, but because it is still the best understanding that I have.


    You're not trying to read and understand. Let's not be coy. You're trying to read and mold it into something that suits you and your lifestyle, rather than the lifestyle God wants for you.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Mar '05 04:572 edits
    Originally posted by Darfius
    [b]And I might respond that “by me” (Greek: di’, through, by, by means of) means by the action of Christ, not any action on your part.

    Fair enough, so your claim is that He sacrificed Himself on the cross so that everyone cou ...[text shortened]... and your lifestyle, rather than the lifestyle God wants for you. [/b]
    Fair enough, so your claim is that He sacrificed Himself on the cross so that everyone could get into Heaven? Evem those who scoff at Him and murder rampantly?

    [/b]I made no such claim whatsoever. I said that one very plausible reading of the text is that what counts is Christ’s action, not yours. That’s all.

    You want to take one sentence out of context of the entire Bible? Wow. That's Russian roulette with only one empty chamber.

    LOL! I took one passage that seems to make a pretty universal statement, and asked, basically, how such statements are to be read in light of the broader context. Did Jesus really mean “all,” or did he mean something else? If there are statements that contravene the “all,” are they to be weighted more, or less than that statement? Does it matter how close they are in context? Might they point to something else? This was intended, again, as an example of the “hermeneutical problem.”

    You're not trying to read and understand. Let's not be coy. You're trying to read and mold it into something that suits you and your lifestyle, rather than the lifestyle God wants for you.

    Whether that is spoken in ignorance, or is just a flat lie, it is still an absolutely false statement and “false witness.”

    You can accuse me of anything you like, and you can do it pretty freely too, because I am not going to waste my time defending myself against any further slanders you want to make.
  12. Standard memberDarfius
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    14 Mar '05 05:11
    I made no such claim whatsoever. I said that one very plausible reading of the text is that what counts is Christ’s action, not yours. That’s all.

    Of course my Lord Jesus Christ's action is what saves us, but only if we believe it did.

    LOL! I took one passage that seems to make a pretty universal statement, and asked, basically, how such statements are to be read in light of the broader context. Did Jesus really mean “all,” or did he mean something else? If there are statements that contravene the “all,” are they to be weighted more, or less than that statement? Does it matter how close they are in context? Might they point to something else? This was intended, again, as an example of the “hermeneutical problem.”

    *sigh* I love how you false prophets act wounded when I point out your methods. You plant tiny seeds of doubt in the mind of baby Christians and you totally disillusion those who are seeking the truth. "Maybe we're all going to heaven." you whisper in their ear. "Jesus just ministered for the fun of it, He didn't really care if you listened." Satan would be proud of you.

    Whether that is spoken in ignorance, or is just a flat lie, it is still an absolutely false statement and “false witness.”

    You can accuse me of anything you like, and you can do it pretty freely too, because I am not going to waste my time defending myself against any further accusations you want to make.


    This is what I meant when I spoke of acting wounded. Don't insult the Lord and what He did for us and why, and I won't point out what you're doing. If you're wanting to play Devil's advocate, be prepared for the Lord's advocates to play, too.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Mar '05 05:19
    Originally posted by Darfius
    [b]I made no such claim whatsoever. I said that one very plausible reading of the text is that what counts is Christ’s action, not yours. That’s all.

    Of course my Lord Jesus Christ's action is what saves us, but only if we believe it did.

    LOL! I took one passage that seems to make a pretty universal statement, and asked, basically, ...[text shortened]... f you're wanting to play Devil's advocate, be prepared for the Lord's advocates to play, too.
    Now I'm just calling you a liar. Period.
  14. Standard memberDarfius
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    14 Mar '05 05:23
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Now I'm just calling you a liar. Period.
    Copycat.
  15. Standard memberNyxie
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    14 Mar '05 05:25
    On passage from the bible? I believe the "all" that is being referred to here pops up a lot more then once.

    Nyxie
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