The Necessity of Biblical Hermeneutics

Pastoral ministry in the twenty-first century has proven to be an arduous task. The growing hostility towards biblical truth and the relativistic beliefs that dominate the world have affected the way preachers handle the Scriptures. Hence, I would like to show how biblical hermeneutics can equip pastors like me to rightly handle the Scriptures.

1.     Biblical Hermeneutics leads the reader to the right interpretation of the text.

To understand the importance of this hermeneutical principle, Jeannine Brown presents the challenges readers face in interpreting the biblical text: “There are significant gaps in our knowledge of the literary conventions, language, and social settings that surround and inhabit the biblical text” (Brown, Scripture as Communication, 21-22). This awareness should cause the reader to first consider the “world” of the biblical author and his authorial intention. Henry Virkler and Karelynne Ayayo state, “Only after a study of canonicity, textual criticism, and historical criticism is the scholar ready to do exegesis” (Virkler and Ayayo, Hermeneutics, 16). I have observed that this process has often been ignored today; meaning is derived not from the text but from the reader’s point of view. D.A. Carson observes, “This is painfully common today. The current social agenda is taken as the assumed ‘given’ and the text is made to conform to it. Postmoderns see nothing wrong with this procedure; indeed, they are inclined to think it is inevitable” (Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 130). When the reader ignores the rules of biblical hermeneutics, he will inevitably commit exegetical fallacies and be guilty of relativistic thinking—interpretation will be based on his preconceived notions or theological predilections. On the contrary, when the rules of biblical hermeneutics are applied, the reader will be able to rightly interpret and apply the text in a way that is consistent with the author’s intended purpose.

 2.     Biblical Hermeneutics leads the reader to the right application of the text.

One of the misconceptions people have in regard to biblical hermeneutics is that it is unable to make relevant applications to its contemporary audience. This misguided perception fails to realize that biblical hermeneutics is the key to correct application.

Brown notes, “It is my conviction that the foreign excursion will show itself to be relevant and meaningful to our contexts if we take the time to understand the gaps between the ancient and contemporary” (Brown, Scripture as Communication, 24). Hence, my goal as an interpreter is to discern the timeless truths found in the sacred texts without removing them from their context. Virkler and Ayayo observe, “[Hermeneutics] is considered an art because communication is flexible. . . . To be a good interpreter one must learn the rules of hermeneutics as well as the art of applying those rules” (Virkler and Ayayo, Hermeneutics, 15).

Given these considerations, I have realized that biblical hermeneutics requires a lot of discipline and commitment; it is not for the indolent or duplicitous. As a preacher, I need to submit to the authority of Scripture and must strive to be “a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Moreover, I need to depend on the Holy Spirit’s illuminating and sanctifying work because God expects me to not only preach biblically but live obediently for His glory.