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Biblical Hermeneutic Circularity

Biblical Hermeneutic Circularity September 16, 2021

Hermeneutics – interpretative methods and theory, particularly regarding the Bible – is fraught with issue. It depends where you start off. For Christians, they often start off with the idea of making the Bible say what they want it to say. This underwrites their confirmation bias.

Let’s look at article 3 of the Chicago Statement. Some background first:

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference convened by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy[1] and held in Chicago in October 1978. The statement was designed to defend the position of biblical inerrancy against a trend toward liberal conceptions of Scripture.

The subsequent November 1982 Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics recognised the need to add a hermeneutical framework to the statement.

Finally the December 1986 conference adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Application.

What’s interesting is to see how it has been changed, because I think this is the 1978 version:

Article III

We affirm that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

We deny that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

And I think this is the 1982 version:

We affirm that the Person and work of Jesus Christ are the central focus of the entire Bible.

We deny that any method of interpretation which rejects or obscures the Christ-centeredness of Scripture is correct.

That second sentence. Wow. And it’s interesting that it is widely used as a pre-determined conclusion in divinity schools and educational establishments up and down the US, such as this divinity school at the University of South Carolina.

What an incredibly uncritical approach to education. I bet these same evangelicals talk about freedom of rights, freedom to bear arms, small government, government overreach, and Marxists telling you what to think. Yet here, it’s like the thought police.


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