Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hermeneutical Philosophies for Interpreting Narrative Literature Part 1 - Introduction

Part 1 - Introduction

         The hermeneutics of Lucan literature is divided between those who find miraculous paradigmatic examples in the text applicable to the modern church, and those who confine the age of miracles to Luke's narrative. The interpretation of the former seeks to repeat the miracles, as retold in Acts, into modern-day methods of ministry. This interpretation is generally known as Pentecostalism. The interpretation of the latter is to repeat the success of that initial ministry in relation to bringing souls to Christ, yet achieve such aims in a manner less reliant on the miraculous and more reliant on the homiletic. This persuasion is generally known as Cessationism. Both sides enjoy a spectrum of diversity but for the sake of brevity we will confine definitions to those given above. Both sides accept the historical validity of Luke's account; the difference is the repeatability of certain aspects of the history. While expositors acknowledge that not all behaviors are to be repeated, the presence of miracles divides interpreters as to their modern relevance.
         At the heart of this issue is a hermeneutical divide on the genre of the narrative. The narrative provides an inseparable compound of the unique and the paradigmatic, yet deciphering between the two is difficult. The genre of the narrative differs from the didactic, which deals in objective commandments and emphatic statements. Some solely base their theology on the didactic and use the narrative to compliment it. This is done in dearth of hermeneutical principles that can separate the unique from the repeatable. I propose the hermeneutical approaches called the principle of repetition and early readers perception of the text. By adopting these principles we can sunder between the normative and the distinct.

          What neither side denies is that the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit is fundamental and inseparable from the work of the early church. Those who expect miracles as relating to their contemporary ministry find abundant programmatic examples in the book of Acts upon which to base their ministry. Those who deny the role of the miraculous are in the difficult position of trying to find paradigmatic ministry sans an element that was indispensable to the apostles. The apostles could not have imagined a miracleless ministry; and would have seen the empowering of the Holy Spirit as basal. Those who depend on a homiletic based ministry launch an approach foreign to the early church. Thus, if the basis of one's ministry is not constantly seeking the miraculous, then one will find little in the way of paradigmatic ministry. In fact, such a ministry will have to create an entirely new methodology that bears little resemblance to that retold by Luke. This puts the cessationist minister in the discommodious position of necessitating a new paradigm without the aid of a single biblical ecclesiastical narrative or even a didactic. The cessationist say the miraculous in Acts was not paradigmatic for contemporary ministry, but what such an approach does not answer is where the paradigm for a miracleless ministry is found, for it is certainly not within the scriptures.

God Love You -- Rev. Sheen

Part 2 - Hermeneutical Philosophies

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