II. Doctrinal strategy concerning
hermeneutics (concerning the doctrine of inspiration, canonicity, Bible
interpretation and dogmatics in general)
CRC strives towards a renewed
understanding of hermeneutics through identifying un-Christian doctrinal
tendencies based upon an either arian or apollonarian view of Christ. CRC
believes in verbal inerrancy and holds to the Chicaco Declaration on
Hermeneutics of 1984. However, many formally holding to verbal inerrancy
come to an apollonarianistic hermeneutics which causes them to miss Christ
in the Bible (Jn. 5,39)
I. Following what could be called an "apollonarian"
hermeneutics, the human element within the Bible is pushed aside. Like in
many cults, a mechanical way of inspiration is believed. The biblical
writers were writing their respective texts like spiritistic mediums
writing their "messages". This view leads to a phenomenological
approach in hermeneutics. Taking the Bible "literally" then
usually leads to what Bernhard Ramm in "Protestant Bible
Interpretation" has named "Letterism". Any attempt to
interpret the biblical accounts in a spiritualizing, allegorical manner is
discredited as "tampering with God's word".
A hermeneutics that is anti-religious will have to take the Bible seriously
and literally because it is the Bible that supplies the blueprint of the
fight against religion. In that sense CRC is also standing up for
"fundamentalism". Fundamentalism according to CRC, however, is
not leading to a naive non-hermeneutic or even non-theology, letting
"the Word stand as it is". A continual reformation against the
gravity force of religion means having to take on the responsibility of
freeing the Bible from religious misinterpretations. "Letting the Word
stand as it is", however, means giving any kind of cult or synagogue
the right to lay its foundation with the very Bible that actually should
serve towards the erection of bulwarks against religion. Paul did not write
to Timothy: "Let people learn the Bible by heart" (even though
this is a commendable exercise as such; Timothy himself profited from the
Bible knowledge he received from his grandmother). Instead Paul writes to
Timothy: "Teach the right DOCTRINE", i.e. vaccinate the people
with the right BIBLE INTERPRETATION. Fundamentalism today has to come away
from a mere Bible-quiz mentality towards a DOCTRINE and DOGMA-SEEKING
mentality if it is to survive.
Apollonarianistic hermeneuticians, while not indifferent to attacks against
the Bible, are completely indifferent concerning DOCTRINE and DOGMA. They
say: "Let the Bible in peace. Whoever is led by the Spirit, will come
to the truth anyway." They completely overlook the fact, that the
Bible has to be read in that same human spirit and divine Holy Spirit that
led the early church theologians to reject one book as uninspired and
embrace another one as inspired and therefore canonical. What were the
motives they had for doing so? Were these not theological, doctrinal,
dogmatic motives? Why not use these same motives today for the
interpretation of what has come to be canonical, i.e. part of the Bible as
we have it today? Instead, the apollonarianistic hermeneutician will regard
the Bible just as the Muslims regard the Koran and the cults the writings
of their leaders. It has fallen from heaven and is above any human
investigation as to its origin. Then they fail to interpret the Bible
according to an apostolic pattern and come to all sorts of kinky
hermeneutical gymnastics and also fall prey to unbiblical interpretation
methods such as dispensationalism.
II. The "arian" hermeneutician is taking the human element to an
extreme. He may believe in inerrancy, too, but not in verbal inerrancy. He
does not believe that God would have been able to direct the very
formulation in words of the biblical writer. The biblical writer has just
had one initial idea from the Holy Spirit, the rest was flowing from his
pencil as his circumstances and his wit and erudition directed him.
Certainly God did choose writers that were learned and geniuses. But He
could use unlearned farmers and shepherds, too. The "arian"
hermeneutician cannot believe that God can lead a man 100%, all of the
time, and at the same time letting him unfold his personality, his human
passion, his human anger and hurt. Just as Christ was 100% man and 100% God
at the same time, the Bible is a 100% supernaturally inspired book and a
100% human masterpiece written in peculiar historical contexts using a
variety of vernaculars, stylistic features, wordplays and polemics.
The problem with the arian view that the Bible is not verbally, i.e.
word-by-word inspired, is that this leaves room for someone to ask: "I
wonder where there is the really divine element in this or that text, and
where the writer has "just" been human!" Then the
historical-critical Bible interpretation method comes in, dividing the
Bible between that which is temporal, human, accidental, historic and that
which is eternal, valid for all times and persons and absolutely necessary.
The problem arises: Who has the right to decide this? According to which
Instead of criticizing the Bible, one should criticize the religious abuses
of the Bible with the Bible. It is good to read the Bible in a critical
manner. However, the motivating question in doing so should not be "Is
this text inspired?", but "Have I maybe understood this text in a
false way and in fact it means something completely different?".
Criticism should not be employed against the Bible but against the abuse of
the Bible. Instead of cutting off the branch on which we are sitting we
should leave the neutral zone of dogmatic indifference and fight together
with the Bible against that which also Christ fought against, namely
For more information, as to how the relation between dogma and the fight
against religion hang together, see "CRC's
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