Brother Meador, I have heard about a "New Hermeneutic"
that some of our brethren are advocating. My family and I are
members of a congregation in Tennessee that was established over
one hundred years ago and the church here is trying to remain
faithful to the "old paths." However, some preachers
in our area are now teaching that we need to interpret the Bible
differently than our fathers. Why are some now trying so hard
to change the way we understand Scriptures?
The theory known as the "New Hermeneutic" is a false
method of interpreting the Bible that has swept over our brotherhood.
This is especially true in regions where this theory is heavily
promoted by various universities. The too quickly converted students
of the theory then return to their home congregations where a
firestorm of digression spreads unchecked.
Currently accepted ideas such as: (1) there are Christians in
all denominations; (2) approval of using instrumental music in
worship; (3) acceptance of denominational baptism; (4) one cannot
be certain of knowing the truth; (5) that we must always emphasize
love over doctrine; and (6) the church must reach out to and spiritually
fellowship denominations all result from the acceptance of a new
way to understand the Bible.
Not only are some of "our" university lectureships to
blame for this present "new hermeneutic" crisis, but
the neoorthodox liberalism allowed in the classrooms in
some of "our" schools is also responsible for this departure
from the old paths. A generation of preachers, elders and church
leaders are compromised.
The new hermeneutic is not new, having been contrived by infidels
such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Hans Georg Gadamer. It is
the backbone of liberalism. Contemporary writers add coloring
and dress to the view, but the theory remains virtually unchanged
since it's first acceptance by such modernist theologians as Emilio
Betti (18901968); by existentialists such as Martin Heidegger
(1889-1976), Rudolf Bultmann (18841976); as well as those
in the more moderate, but noless dangerous neoorthodox,
camp like Emile Brunner (1889-1966), Karl Barth (18861968)
and Paul Tillich (18861965). Some strident voices among
faculty in some of "our" schools proclaim that they
are "Barthians" - and proud of it!
The new hermeneutic is nothing more than the failed method of
literary criticism and interpretation arising out of the Romanticist
period where the assertion of personal feelings or experiences
were considered all authoritative. Friedrich Schleiermacher applied
Romantic philosophy to his task and claimed his goal as an interpreter
was to reach behind the text to know the mind of the author. He
thought this brought understanding of the "creative experience
that called the text into being." He deemed the text, whether
secular or biblical, as the sole product of creative human experience.
Among our brethren, the adherents of the new hermeneutic have
falsely presupposed that the gospel is a message that changes
to meet the needs of differing ages and cultures. Therefore, the
rational and logical method of Bible interpretation, to which
so many have for so long subscribed, is now looked upon by liberals
as a curious relic. They assert that
"you simply cannot look at the Bible as a pattern anymore,
as this method is outdated and is no longer culturally relevant."
The principles of Bible interpretation, as rightly understood
and expounded by faithful brethren over the years, are now seen
as woefully outdated. This is so, we are told, because "such
principles no longer provide a relevant paradigm for a church
that is now wrestling with so many diverse cultural and doctrinal
It is asserted that "the gospel was never designed to be
interpreted in a factual or objective sense, but rather it must
be interpreted symbolically, by an impulsive heart, and the gospel
must stretch, adapt, and change to meet the needs of each generation."
Further, with the revival of the charismatic/pentecostal movement,
some of our Bible professors and preachers are openly teaching
that modern miraculous gifts-tongue speaking, and direct nudging
of the Holy Spirit-are a genuine modern Christian phenomena. Still
others, not so far gone, are pushing for a literal Holy Spirit
indwelling which "enables" or directly operates on the
Those who promote the new hermeneutic to the brotherhood think
the gospel is no longer relevant. These modernists within our
ranks have taken it upon themselves to conclude that the gospel
must be interpreted differently if it is to "be a vibrant
and meaningful message for today's society."
Such pretentious brethren also contend that the gospel, as preached
today in faithful congregations, is a contrived message which
earlier generations of unlettered brethren devised (sincerely
but unwittingly) from literary methods which were steeped in the
rationalistic philosophy of John Locke. Such methods, they argue,
have produced a gospel that cannot apply to the problems faced
by the modern church. We are told to ignore correct reason and
logic and simply trust in God beyond reason. One proponent of
the new hermeneutic stated we must have the courage to step out
beyond rationalism "to embrace a God who cannot be known!"
In the beginning of the church one gospel was preached in every
culture and clime. The apostles did not fashion different gospels
for different cultures. There was one faith for all the world.
This shows that the gospel is not influenced by culture, but rather
is designed to influence socially transmitted behavior patterns,
or culture. If the gospel is molded by culture, we would have
as many gospels as we have cultures. The gospel is the same in
every generation because the spiritual needs of humans are the
same in every generation.
A new hermeneutic will produce a new gospel. A new gospel is a
different gospel. A different gospel is a false gospel.
I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called
you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not
another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would
pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you
any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him
be anathema (Gal 1:68).