Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Hermeneutical Approach

I took this test the shows my attitude toward scripture. It seemed to be quite accurate in my score though I would object to the explanation of the results.

You should take it too just to see where you end up. Go ahead I dare you.

to take it for yourself.

I scored a 46 which means I am a Conservative on the Hermeneutic Scale.

The conservative hermeneutic group scores 52 or lower. The strength of this view is its emphasis on the authority, ongoing and normative authority, of all of Scripture. It tends to operate with the line many of us learned in Sunday school: "If the Bible says it, that settles it." Such persons let the Bible challenge them with full force. Literal readings lead to rather literal applications. Most of the time.

The problem, of course, is that very few people are completely consistent here. At times one suspects something other than strict interpretation is going on when the conservative is willing to appeal to history to suspend the commandment to observe a Saturday Sabbath, but does not to appeal to history on other issues (e.g., capital punishment or homosexuality).


Tim Sheets said...

Hey Matt!

Took the quiz and scored a 60 (I'm a moderate). That was interesting and helpful. Well, just thought I would leave you a comment. Congrats on the new job!

T <><

Tim Hallman said...

Thanks for posting about this test. I had read the article in CT, but hadn't taken time or interest in the assessment. After reading your post, I went ahead and took it: I scored 70.

Very interesting...

You say the score is accurate, but not the explanation. How so?

Matt said...


Maybe I am over-reacting a bit but I think this explaination of the conservative approach is somewhat insulting.

I think it started with the "if the bible says it that settles it" line. To me that just smacks with the implication that those who take a conservative approach towards scripture are non-thinkers and do not wrestle intellectually with the Word. I take exception to that.

Another thing that bothers me is the nonspecific implication that those who take a conservative approach are hypocrits. I do not appeal to history for worshiping on Sunday I appeal to Pauls writings on freedom and no one day being better than another. I think the principle of Sabbath Rest remains as did Paul, therefore, I keep a Sabbath.

The same is true of Homosexuality. Capital Punishment, I confess, i another animal for me. I am still letting the Bible "Challenge me with full force" on this one. Do I kill my son for cursing me? The adulterer, the one who has sex with an animal, the murderer, the abortion doctor, the rapist and those who take advantage of the poor? (the list is long on this one).

Anyway, I do not think that if I do not literally do these things that means I am "inconsistent". I am wrestling very much with the issue and am still left wonder what to do with it in its application to today's world.

This would make a great conversation!(one I would love to have with you) :)

Lets get together and talk. I also want to know how you scored so High on this test. I would have pegged you as more moderate.

- Matt

Tim Hallman said...

Based on your explanation, maybe you need to retake the test; maybe you are not as conservative as you tested.

I can see your point as you push back on McKnights very brief and maybe a bit too stereotypical definition of each point.

However, just to pick a bit - I'm not sure I follow your point about Paul and the Sabbath; if Paul is arguing for freedom, then you can't really say that Paul is supporting Sabbath Rest. He's saying that observance of Sabbath Rest is personal, not obligation.

Anyway, as far as the questions of the quiz, I found myself answering most of my questions as a three, with very few as a one, a bunch of fours and a few fives.

What I sense from some conservatives is a fear to get the Scriptures wrong; they are afraid of not getting the interpretation right. Again, that may be too stereotypical, it's not meant to be. I suppose for some moderates and progressives, interpretation is journey, there is an upfront acknowledgment that we can only know in part; thus we may not have it all right, but we have enough right that we can receive grace and live by faith by the light that we have.

Does that make sense?