There has been a lot of talk about what Scripture is and how to interpret it over the past five years. Books such as Kenton Sparks’ God’s Words in Human Words and Sacred Word, Broken Word, Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation, Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God, Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible, Darrell Bock’s Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? and N.T. Wright’s Scripture and the Authority of God have flooded my “More Items to Consider”section on Amazon. Not only this, there has been a lot of blogging about what exactly Scripture is as of late. Gregory Boyd argues that a hermeneutic of cruciformity needs to be our starting place for interpreting Scripture here. Peter Enns discusses Kenton Sparks new book here. Even eminent Arminian scholar, Roger Olson, praises Sparks’ book here.
What do we do with the texts that seem like blunders to us? Whether it has to do with the issue of monotheism in the Old Testament, the historicity of the Exodus from Egypt, texts of genocide, the pastoral epistles, there clearly are biblical texts that cause us trouble.
If I understand correctly (I haven’t read either of Sparks’ books), Sparks argues that we need to interpret all of Scripture through the lens of Jesus himself. Since Jesus is the true revelation of God all other revelation is secondary to this. Boyd argues that a Christocentric hermeneutic is too broad, and that we need to look at the most defining act of the incarnate God, the crucifixion. Thus, Boyd argues we need to have a cruciform hermeneutic. What Boyd also argues is that where there is a depiction of God that doesn’t align with the crucified Jesus, then we essentially put it away and say that this is a fallen view of who God is, and not a true revelation of what or who God is. This also frees us up with historical inaccuracies, since this is the human and fallen side of Scripture when it factually errs. Others, such as Craig Bartholomew in his recent book, Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address has argued that the christocentric and cruciform (although he doesn’t mention the cruciform hermeneutic, the one he proposes negates it) hermeneutical approaches fall short; what we need is a Trinitarian hermeneutic! Still others not comfortable with any of these approaches take Warfield’s approach.
There clearly are tensions in Scripture, strong ones. To ignore this is intellectual dishonesty or ignorance. Nevertheless, I do believe that Scripture is reliable for faith and practice. Even though it has received much criticism, Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster? addresses many misunderstandings concerning the Old Testament. Not only this, but David Lamb’s book God Behaving Badly deals with ethical issues in the OT as well. But these books haven’t exhausted the issues concerning ethics and diversity in OT/NT thought. Nor have these books touched the issues of archeology and textual criticism (this isn’t to say there aren’t books that have).
What do you think? How do you interpret texts that seem to be blunders? What is your hermeneutic epistemology? How do you reconcile the God of the cross with the God who commands genocide (which isn’t to say they are two different God’s)?