Thursday, January 23, 2014

Evil Queen Hermeneutics

"Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" The Evil Queen loves to ask this question, because she is told in reply, "My Queen, you are the fairest in the land." Oh how she loves to ask this question. She is wonderful. She is beautiful. She is the most impressive in the land. Why wouldn't she want to go to the mirror daily, hourly to ask this question? 

Something looks oddly familiar about this scene. People who run to something to see their own reflection and be told how good they are...hmm...where have I seen this before? Oh, yes, that's it, this is how many people are using their Bibles. 

I can see the confused look on your face, so I'll explain. Many open their Bible's and read it, hoping and longing to hear exactly what they want to hear. They like the Bible so long as the Bible affirms their already preconceived ideas. They enjoy going to Scripture so long as it keeps aligning with their existing opinions. The problems begin when the Bible tells them something they don't like. 

"Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" When the mirror responds, "My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you," something changes. This infuriates the Evil Queen, because the mirror is supposed to only tell her what she wants to hear - that she is the fairest. The moment the mirror tells her something different, she is enraged. 

The same thing happens with how many approach Bible interpretation. They  have an Evil Queen hermeneutic. They read and affirm everything the Bible says, so long as it aligns with what they already believe. They love the Scripture, particularly the parts which affirms their existing presuppositions. But when they encounter something they don't like, they discard it. They throw away passages, doctrines, and truths because they don't match what they expected to hear when they came to the Bible. I read an article recently in which the author essentially promotes this very ideology.

There is a lot of talk about contextualization today. We should contextualize the message of the gospel and the Scriptures to people. I agree with this. We should definitely communicate the truths of the Bible to people in such a way that they understand them and grasp how to live them in our culture and era of history. However, we do not contextualize the interpretation of Scripture. Our job is to contextualize the application of Scripture. We do not change the meaning of Scripture to fit our culture's current sensibilities. That is not contextualization. Instead, we seek to understand what the Scriptures are saying to us, what the author of a particular passage meant by what they wrote. Then, and only then, can we take truths and contextualize them in our current culture and situations. 

Contextualization is about application, not interpretation.  First, we interpret Scripture rightly. Then we can contextualize application properly. Contextualizing the interpretation is Evil Queen hermeneutics. It is an exercise is making the Scripture say what you want them to, instead of letting them speak for themselves. Be weary of people who interpret the Bible like the Evil Queen. They love to quote Scriptures that tell them what they want to hear. But they are dangerously quick to discount, remove, and deny Scriptures that do not.

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1 comment:

  1. Good application...thanks Pastor