Building a Hermeneutical Bridge
Yesterday I wrote about the importance of Bible study in the preparation of the teacher so that we may stay faithful to say what the Bible says. This is no easy task, but it is deeply rewarding.
Ultimately the preparation of the teacher has this goal in mind; we want to say what the Bible says, to us. This task is accomplished by building what is called a hermeneutical bridge. “Hermeneutical bridge” is a total nerd term, but it simply means that the teacher makes a connection between what the Bible meant to its original readers with the message of the Bible to its current readers.
Lest we think that the “hermeneutical bridge” is the proverbial bridge to nowhere, we build it with this governing principle: The Bible never means what it never meant.
Even though the Bible is an old, foreign text; building a hermeneutical bridge from the original historical context to our present context is not bridging the ocean, it is more like bridging a brook. You will find that truly, “There is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9).” People in the 1st century may have worn togas and driven chariots but a soul is a soul. Whether we are middle eastern nomads that live in tents or western cultured Baby Boomers/Busters/Gen X’ers who live in a two-story home, at our core, we have forever been the same.
The teacher that does not commit to building a faithful hermeneutical bridge pillages the Bible of its power. Let us say what God has said. In this way we are teaching the Bible rather than teaching what we think or feel. Many teachers offer their students little more than a hermeneutical bridge to their opinions. I mean no disrespect here, but this is unfaithful to the task of Bible teaching and truly, most often is a bridge to nowhere.
The power for life change is in the gospel, not in our opinions. Let us be faithful to study the Biblical text so that we may connect with what God has said. Why is the hermeneutical bridge important? Because what God has said, He has said. Or, a more accurate way of stating this truth is, what God has said, He is forever saying. When God called Jesus, “My beloved son in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11)”, He meant this for all time. God was well pleased with Jesus in 30-something AD. God is forever pleased with Jesus. This is not a bridge over an ocean, this is a bridge over a brook.
So how do we faithfully build this bridge?
More to come . . .