Exegesis and hermeneutics are fun words. If you’ve ever preached a sermon, these two words become your close friends.
In a nutshell, exegesis attempts to answer questions such as “What did the original author of this book try to say?” or “What was his original message?”
Hermeneutics addresses our own interpretation of the text. How do we, a 21st century American audience, interpret these ancient words?
Scripture is divinely inspired (though whether or not you believe it’s inerrant is a whole other story). But that does not mean we each read the Bible the same way, through the same eyes, or through the same life experiences.
Is this an obstacle to be avoided? I would say no. It only becomes a stumbling block if we allow our “preunderstandings” to grow into prejudices. In other words, we read parts of Scripture with our minds already closed to certain modern-day issues that the original author likely knew nothing about.
Put differently, we can be agenda-driven. God’s meaning is ultimate, as He is the ultimate author of Scripture. Our God interprets everything perfectly in that He invented language. And human beings. Human beings with linguistic capacity!
We get to know the human author’s point in order to grasp God’s point and not the other way around. It is entirely possible you will interact with another Christian this week who will challenge your interpretation of a specific Bible verse. And you know what? That’s okay.
Instead of trying to win an argument, how about trying to begin a relationship? How about saying something like, “Tell me more about why you see it that way?” May you remember to let love conquer law.
In Christ alone–Matt.