Jesus, The Final Hermeneutic…
The major shift in our country’s laws affirming marriage equality has become a hot-button issue within Evangelicalism. This post is not necessarily about the issue itself, but focuses on two interpretive trajectories; in one you often see a God that is AGAINST people and in the other a God that is simply FOR people.
Those who see the changes as wrong tend to argue based on the “authority of Scripture alone,” that “the Bible says so.” In other words, their position —and this seems to be the most common among conservative Evangelicals today – is essentially that all that matters is what the Bible says about that particular behavior. The Bible condemns it, that settles it.
However, whenever moral issues pick up Evangelical adrenaline you can bet the X-Factor Himself has been somehow left out of the equation. When the Bible is no longer informed by the Gospel, the Gospel of grace, you get a kind of biblicism and moralism that is not JESUS but more like MOSES.
But when JESUS is the LENS through which we interpret Scripture, He gives all that precedes and all that follows in its profound and ultimate meaning. He is not “flattened” to the same level as the other writers, or some “biblical position” no, He has the preeminence,
He is the final hermaneutic. The “words made print” are interptreted in light of the “Word made flesh.”
With this the Bible becomes more about JESUS as the supreme Word of God, not the letter, not “what the Bible plainly says” detached from what it “plainly says” about the grace and love of God. Regardless of the “sin” or the magnitude of the “issue”, Romans 5:20 guides us by saying “Where sin abounds, GRACE MUCH MORE abounds”. Separate His grace from the Scriptures, or Jesus from a verse and the Bible is another book. HE is the meaning in which all interpretations have their meaning.
There is tremendous change at hand, new understanding…and great pushback as well; we are realizing we can’t simply “stand on the authority of Scripture” and ignore the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ IN those very Scriptures! We are seeing that the arc of Scripture is bent toward grace and inclusion; that the grace trajectory trumps the moralism trajectory, contradicting the dominant values of religion.
Otherwise there is a virtual guarantee that we will arrive at abusive and hurtful actions towards others – all done in the name of “submitting to the authority of Scripture” and truly miss submitting. to the authority of God’s grace IN Scripture. As Carl Lentz said,
“We would rather be misunderstood and look “messy” to some in the Christian community that do not agree with us and HELP some, than appease people that think differently and reach NONE”.
John 5:39–40 and Hebrews 1:1–3