The Historical-Grammatical Nanny State
Typological interpretation is either abused or frowned upon, a domain relegated to mystics and charlatans, where the angels of modern academia fear to tread. But what if the Bible itself contained safeguards against irresponsible flights of fancy? And if it did, what would they look like?
Years ago, a friend well-versed in theology noticed that three thousand Israelites were slain at the first Pentecost and three thousand believed at the last. He questioned if such an observation was valid, yet this is precisely the kind of response that the texts were intended to elicit.
It is tragic that someone so educated and so familiar with the Scriptures would be afraid of venturing beyond an imaginary — and entirely arbitrary — hermeneutical safeguard. What is most distressing is that the benefits of his familiarity with the Scriptures were hamstrung by his theological education. Not only does my friend miss out on much of what the Bible has to offer, but so do all those under his ministry.
Modern biblical scholarship has become an industry which alienates the common man from the Bible every bit as much as the “veil of expertise” which robbed Christians of the Word under Rome. When direct contact with the texts is not permitted, people’s minds are not shaped by them, and they resort to foolish superstitions or fall prey to the world’s philosophies. The Bible is “protected” but the culture is left to the ravens.
The origins of this historical-grammatical “protectionism” were as well-meaning as those which locked the Word away in the early centuries of the Church, but this time the satanic strategy is different. This time, the Word itself is not illegal. It is readily available, and found in the ears and mouths and hands and hearts of many people. But to shield Christians from the irresponsible claims of Bible teachers who consult their own imaginations for hidden meanings in the text, teachers and hearers are bound by rules that render obvious associations, such as the one mentioned above, beyond the bounds of hermeneutical propriety. We are not allowed to read the Bible in the way it was intended to be read.
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