How the interpretive approaches to Scripture are used–to what epistemological objective or purpose, as valued against the standard we choose to make the yardstick of what is epistemologically “true” or “false”, “good” or “bad”–must utterly inform the interpretation. And this is the problem. For neither the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic or the Grammatical Historical Hermeneutic assumes the standard to be human life/existence. Further, in my studies, I have yet to see either one define any standard beyond its own assumptions. This means that the interpretation is right merely because it is the interpretation chosen. Neither claims to validate the veracity of its interpretive conclusions against any standard other than “it means what it means”, so to speak. Thus, the “plain meaning” of Scripture is an argument both use. Again, the interpretation is valid because of the conclusions it draws, not because the conclusions it draws comport with an objective and external-to-the-interpretation standard of TRUTH. The conclusions must support the interpretation because the interpretation is already assumed to be correct. Therefore it is impossible for the interpretation to reveal anything that does not bulwark its self-assumed monopoly on interpretive truth. This of course, in turn, makes it impossible for anyone or anything, be it man or God or Scripture or anything else, to gauge the accuracy of or to even remotely question the interpretive approach. It is right simply because it is what it is and says what it says. Therefore, the interpretive approach is not informed by God and certainly not the Bible. On the contrary, the relationship is quite the opposite. The interpretation is the standard of all TRUTH to which everything else in the universe must agree. If anything does not, then it is both epistemologically and metaphysically non-existent…without any definition. In short, the interpretive approach becomes the “lens” of the primary consciousness by which one decides what the Bible (and God, Himself, is the implication) “plainly” says.
It is not necessary, I am assuming, to point out the irony here.
Do you see the conflict of interest then? The circular logic? And of course this makes the “intellectual” root of each interpretive approach exactly the same: the interpretation speaks for itself, and it must necessarily by default then draw conclusions out of the text of scripture which are “plainly seen”; and “plainly” verify that the interpretive approach is, indeed, infallibly veracious.
In both cases, the Primary Consciousness approach to existence is assumed and remains indefatigable. Man is incapable of deciding truth on his own, due to the absolute insufficiency of his material existence in essentially all matters (moral, physical, metaphysical, epistemological, etc., etc.), and thus requires an external, abstract/conceptual “intelligence” to explain everything for him…and this “intelligence”, this divine gnosis, is accessed by specially enlightened individuals who have been, somehow, chosen as God’s emissaries; His chosen vessels to bring enlightenment–by any means necessary–to the masses, who are only different from rank animals in that they are morally culpable for their mindless existence and thus will get hell and torment should they resist God’s chosen priests…even though they cannot help but resist because they are mindless animals by nature, but anyway…
In the face of this epistemological rape, the only alternative of course of action is for man to assume that his conscious existence is not only sufficient for apprehending and organizing his reality/environment but is, being the singular and infinite constant frame of reference for anything and everything he sees, knows, and/or does, the only standard of TRUTH which can be credited as reasonable…and as such, valid.
And this is what Christians, in the death-worshiping, mystical, philosophical smorgasbord that has become Christian theology (and has been since at least Augustine, if not earlier) will never, ever, ever concede. They would rather play Russian roulette with interpretive approaches and hope–out of naked blind and utterly vacuous faith–that they will somehow be spared the requisite death and destruction which must follow mankind when he decides that his own mind is actually antithetical to his life…that his very own created SELF is perpetually in God’s way, and that if he would just lay down and roll the fuck over and die (intellectually/psychologically is preferred…that way you can still tithe; but physically? Just as good in the end….). Yes, they would rather do this than concede the standard of truth which stares plainly at them in the mirror every day of their lives, begging and screaming to be accepted as God’s gift to man–his very SELF–but is brushed aside with about as much rational sense as one would brush aside a rocket ship whilst planning a trip to the moon.
And here is the sad little lie. There is no such thing as an interpretive approach to Scripture which can be said to use God or the Bible as the standard of TRUTH. This simply isn’t possible, and if we spent more time studying Old Testament philosophy as we do attempting squeeze all of our theological understanding out of a very few, very short epistles from Paul, who is about as easy to drag a “plain” thought out of as…well, as Paul, then we’d understand the futility of putting the plumb line of TRUTH outside of the human ontological context.
The whole point of the Law was to do what? To point to itself as the standard of TRUTH and morality? Of course not…for if that were the case then what is the point of Christ? What is the point of the incarnate Messiah? What is the point of the death of the new Adam to satisfy the Law? Why have a perfect, flesh and blood human being as the conqueror of death? For if the Law itself is the standard of TRUTH, then death is man’s purpose. It hardly seems logical that God would come as that which the Law decries and condemns (in service to its own absolute TRUTH) in the interest of proving that the Law as the standard of judgement and TRUTH. I mean, where is the sense in that idea? It is completely self-contradicting.
On the contrary, Jesus Christ affirms–as does even a cursory look at at the Old Testament and its linking of the morality of the Law to the preservation and affirmation of human LIFE–that human beings are the point of the Law. It is not their death it demands, it is their life. And if it is their life that the Law is in service to, then to what is man’s life subordinate? It cannot be the law; it can only be itself. Man’s life is the ruler of man’s life.
If the point of God’s Law is to preserve, persevere, and perpetuate human life then only one inexorable conclusion can be drawn: man is suppose to exist as he does, in the form he takes, with the mind he has, and with the bone-stock senses with which he integrates and organizes his world to himself. And the implication then is that it is this form of man which is perfect already. YOU are who and what you are supposed to be. Your goodness and perfection is NOW, not after you DIE…as if death is, again, the panacea for all ills. No, that is the easy, weak, and intellectually lazy approach to life: “Well…[shrug], when we DIE it’ll all make sense; when we DIE our infinite depravity will be done away with; when we DIE we can finally be good for God; when we DIE then we will live; when we DIE there will be no more pain or suffering or evil or…er, death.”
Yeah…no fucking shit, Sherlock. It’s funny how death works, isn’t it? Just seems to take care of everything, huh? How marvelously convenient. What a fucking a-okay theology. Please, tell me who to make my check out to…I gotta have more of this “good news”.
But God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And it is only through your life that you have Him. Remember that. If you die, you will by no means see God. And that is the whole point of Christ. To defeat death, not to worship it.