About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

Home Page

The God Of Our Cause


Webster's online dictionary defines the word "hermeneutics" as the study of the methodological principles of interpretation.  Okay, that might be a bit confusing.  I define hermeneutics as the attempt to understand what someone says as he wants it to be understood, not as I want it to be understood.  You might actually say that hermeneutics is the art of common communication.  I use the word "art" because our communication skills leave much to be desired.  Good communication is a skill, an art that we constantly struggle to learn and implement into our relationships.  Biblical hermeneutics, then, is the attempt to understand the Bible as it wants to be understood, not as we want to understand it. 


In the mid 1990's my friend and I suggested to our pastor that we teach a course on Biblical hermeneutics. He denied our request to help our congregation to have good Biblical study skills.  I suppose that if those sitting in the pews had no such skills, then they would have no legitimate right to question what was taught from the pulpit.  That was life for Christians in the dark age of Catholicism during Medieval times, but it should not be the way it is for us in these post Reformation times.   


Without some knowledge of hermeneutics it is easy for us to impose our twenty-first century, western-world mindset onto the pages of the Bible.  That does great damage to both the Biblical text and our understanding of the Biblical message.  When we formulate our personal theology and then search the pages of the Bible for proof texts to support our position, hermeneutically speaking, we are in the wrong.  We cannot insert our theological concepts into the pages of the Bible to make it say something it never said.   


Concerning any Biblical text, we must ask to whom the passage was originally addressed.  We consider the culture and language in which the passage was written.  We consult credible Biblical scholars who have historical, cultural, linguistic, and archaeological knowledge.  From this process we are better equipped to understand any given Biblical passage.  Only after this process can we ask how the passage applies to us.  When it is all said and done, we must clearly distinguish between our interpretation of the text from the clear word of Scripture.        


For Christians, the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.  We are in error when we impose our personal theology onto the pages of the Bible.  The Bible was written centuries ago in cultures and languages that most know little about.  It is bad hermeneutics to interpret the Bible with our twenty-first century, western-world thought processes and claim it to be God's Word.       


The Bible promotes God's cause, not our cause.  God is not the God of our cause.  He is the God of His own cause, and it is His cause that we must discover throughout the pages of the Bible.    

Home Page