Was There an Apostolic Hermeneutic and Can We Imitate It?

Dr. R. Scott Clark at the Heidelblog has written two important posts (Was There an Apostolic Hermeneutic and Can We Imitate it?) regarding the often debated point of an “Apostolic hermeneutic.”

This is a very important issue in relation to one’s understanding of the gospel (perhaps we could phrase it, a gospel-driven hermeneutic). As one who used to reject any idea of an “Apostolic hermeneutic” I confess that my understanding of the gospel was severely deficient. It wasn’t until I began to seriously rethink my hermeneutical framework that I began to come to a fuller and richer understanding of the gospel (Note: This is in no way meant to suggest that all Dispensationalists have a deficient view of the gospel. But in my case, I did have a deficient view due to my hermeneutical framework. My a priori understanding of the text prevented me from understanding the the organizing principle of Scripture, i.e., seeing Christ at the center).

In his post, Dr. Clark notes the difficulty that the typical “Bible Church” hermeneutic (i.e., Dispensationalist) has in accounting for Galatians 3. While a committed Classical Dispensationalist, this was certainly true in my case. Dr. Clark’s point is well-taken and he is not the only one to make this point. In my search for a better understanding of the overall “metanarrative” of Scripture (Dr. Clark has an excellent essay on this, What the Bible is All About), I came across a statement in Dr. Vern Poythress’ book, Understanding Dispensationalists, that proved to be a pivotal turning point in my hermeneutical development. Dr. Poythress writes,

    “No dispensationalist has shown a way to maneuver around the fundamental dilemma: the one way of salvation is through union with Christ. Union with Christ leads to full enjoyment of all blessings, whether we are Jews or Gentiles. The future never undoes what Christ has accomplished. Such are the implications of Galatians 3. Thus Galatians 3 is a rock on which dispensationalist views of the future must break into pieces,” (p. 137).

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Clark when he writes, “Reading the Bible with Christ at the center is not reading anything into Scripture; it is refusing to read him out of it.” I agree with Augustine who once wrote, “”Novum Testamentum in Vetre latet, et in Novo, Vetus patet,” (i.e., “The New is in the Old concealed, and in the New, the Old revealed.”). Dr. Clark is right, it really isn’t that complicated. The Apostolic hermeneutic is to see Christ at the center of all of Scripture. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” (Lk. 24:27).

(For a great gospel-driven resource on this issue, I highly recommend Dennis Johnson’s book, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ From All The Scriptures)

Him We Proclaim

One Response to Was There an Apostolic Hermeneutic and Can We Imitate It?

  1. LO says:

    Thanks for your encouraging and humble thoughts. Praise God for His grace in ever humbling us to reform our often short-sighted hermeneutics and thereby to sharpen our sight of the glorious Son.

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