Friday, February 29, 2008

Hermeneutics Quiz

Here is a hermeneutics quiz that I saw over at Scot McKnight's blog called the Jesus Creed. You can go to it by clicking here.


eric O said...

Well, I'll be the first to offer my score. I got a 46, which earned me the label, "conservative". The interesting thing for me was, sometimes, I didn't want to choose between 1 and 3 or between 3 and 5 but between 1 and 5 - and 3 was not an acceptable median between them. All the same, even if I chose differently on the few questions where that applied, I still wouldn't earn enough points to be "moderate". Thank goodness, I guess. I'd like to know what the rest of you got, if you dare make such a thing public.

Mark McD said...

Thanks Eric for commenting and taking the quiz. I took it and scored a 53, which according to their scale makes me a moderate. The moderate scale goes from 53 to 65, so I am on the South end of moderate. I believe in inerrancy and that God's words are for all times, so I still feel conservative. Oh well.

Deep Friar said...

I am pleased to report that I ended up with a perfect score—7. We all agree that 7 is the perfect number, and thus the perfect score for this test. Plus, it confirms that I am unquestionably conservative.

Now you may be wondering how I ended up with a score of 7 on a test with 20 questions. Well, unlike many of you, I believe in 7 literal points. So, even though many of you will offer so-called evidence that indicates a longer test, in my system the test was completed in 7 questions.

How could I do this? Well, it is simple really. It seems to me that there are really two accounts of the same questions, so I merely identified the duplicate questions and put them together.

That eliminated the necessary 14 extra points. Why fourteen, not 13? Well, just because I am conservative doesn’t mean I don’t believe in math—it’s science that I don’t believe in. I had to make room for one essential question which the quiz overlooked—inadvertently I’m sure.

#7. The world is:
1. Flat as incontrovertibly proved by Job 38:12-13 and Isa. 11:12.
2. Worldly.
3. Smaller than it used to be (supported by extra-biblical sources e.g., It’s a Small World).
4. Warmer than it used to be.
5. The home of living people, all of whom God loves, including conservatives as well as Catholics, egalitarians, Democrats, gays and Arabs.

Although it was a toss up between 1 and 2, I followed my conservative hermeneutic and went with the answer that would go along with my system, and give me a perfect score.

If any of you need help with the correct answers for the rest of the questions, please let me know and I will be happy to explain the truth to you.

(For a common-sense proof of a flat world, refer to The Flat-out Truth.)

Jason said...

Well, here’s my score…I’m surprised about how it ranks me compared to the previous posts (although Deep Friar scares me into wanting an even higher score), but here goes…57. That’s right, I’m apparently a moderate. The terms conservative and moderate have a lot of baggage attached to them, and I’m not sure I’m ready to carry someone else’s bags. So here are some reactions to Scott's questions:

1. I think it is impossible for anyone to claim complete objectivity. Our churches, books, schools, cultures, time period etc. all provide us with lenses through which we read the Bible, whether we are aware of them or not. Some we seek to remove, others we actively encourage. That’s why we are in the business of theological education (cf. Q10, Q13, Q15).
2. I am amazed that attention to historical context is considered non-conservative. I can understand the controversy when discussing normative behavioral practices, but what about historical narratives (cf. Q14)?
3. A conservative/literal hermeneutic is the basis for dispensationalism, which advocates non-Sabbatarianism. For that matter, every Christian theological system argues against practicing variously defined subsets of Jewish law. Choosing one of these laws and applying the “literal” interpretation test to it, may identify particulars of your theological system, and not your overall hermeneutic. So to me, Q16, Q17, Q19 and Q20 do not seem to be indicators of a conservative hermeneutic.

I guess it boils down to what we mean by conservative (or in this case what Scot means). When I have used the label for myself, I have intended to communicate a high view of scripture, recognition of its inerrancy and a literal hermeneutic (although I think the word literal is loaded and needs clarification). But at the same time I have recognized literary genre, historical context, and orthodox theology as being welcome boundaries for my interpretation.

Mark McD said...

Jason, I totally agree with you. The 'dispensational' kinds of questions like the Sabbath, etc., to me also seemed like unfair indicators. I also feel your pain regarding historical context and hermeneutical objectivity. But what is most important is that you are more moderate than me, so I fully intend to condemn you publicly as a further sign of these awful times, and then hope that I won't be giving Eric any ideas. Now as to Deep Friar, he has blocked his profile, and I have no problem deleting comments that don't serve our purpose on this blog. I am familiar with Charles Johnson from reading the Talk Origins archive. Now that he is dead I would be interested to see if there are still any active members of the Flat Earth Society.

art said...

49 points. Since McKnight himself (cf. "Jesus Creed") is clearly on the pietest side of the pietist/confessionalist spectrum, I'm not really too surprised that in Q13 (The context for reading the Bible) "The confessional statement of one's community of faith" is considered the least 'conservative' position. However as a conservative Reformed evangelical, I'd like to strongly question such a notion! :)

At first thought of course the "me and my Bible" approach to Biblical interpretaion sounds admirable to our Protestant ears, but is it really the least subjective approach?

Firstly, all evangelicals would agree that we want to be under the Word of God itself, not merely a subjective reading of it, and while understanding that perfect objectivity is quite impossible, we would (all) rightly aim for as objective a reading as possible (ie. we want to be exegeting? the text - not doing eisegesis!) For many people today I get the impression that there is an automatic suspicion of confessions as 'human documents', so the choice in their minds (in the context of biblical interpretation) comes down to something like this: the Bible alone vs fallible/biased human documents (confessions). However, I would suggest that this is NOT what the choice is really between (unless we are bold (and naive) enough to claim that our own opinion/interpretation is purely objective). Rather the choice is between going with my own personal understanding of the text (ie. that of one person, from one culture, at one point in history) vs. going with an understanding of the text that generations of pastors, scholars and laymen alike, and numerous whole denominations have held true (and those from different times in history and often from cultures different from our own.)

Yes, admittedly one must first 'pick' and subscribe to a confession (always of course subordinate to the Scriptures themseves) that seems to best express biblical truth, but if someone chooses NOT to subscribe to and/or be guided by any confession, are they really doing a better job of protecting themselves against subjectivity? Thoughts? Discussion?
Alister T

Mark McD said...

Alister, I agree. I feel like there is an illusion on the part of those who say they are not guided by a theological bent, but rather simply the Scriptures themselves. At best it is naive, at worst it is dangerous. Robert Thomas claims that the illumination of the Spirit can guarantee objectivity. When we apply good hermeneutical principles, the illumination of the Holy Spirit takes us beyond our subjectivity to be able to see the Scriptures in an unbiased, objective way. He talks about this in a Master's Journal article that is reprinted in his book 'Evangelical Hermeneutics'. The book is still in Kiev so I don't have a page number for you. But I am skeptical of his claim. If illumination guarantees objectivity, why is there still so much disagreement among (seemingly) godly people? Why is it that Thomas is one of the few people who agrees with himself? Is he one of the few who have correctly combined good hermeneutics with illumination? I am perfectly willing to say that my theological disagreements are due to my lack of godliness, but there are an awful lot of pretty spiritually mature people who surely would be doing it right, and they don't agree with Thomas. I agree with Ramm who proposes a pattern of authority that includes the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Bible, present church authority, reason and tradition. The Bible holds a unique position in this pattern, but since the Bible must be interpreted, orthodox theology is a communal project under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Matt Morgan said...

In many respects, I think that quiz tells you as much about McKnight (and his dividing up evangelical thought) as it does about *you* and your scores. One thing that comes out here (a little!) is the way 'Emergent' categorization of people 'more conservative' than them is over simplistic and not nuanced nearly as well as it should be -- I gather that's why a number of the comments here are registering complaints about some of the questions.

I came in at 51....which in some of my Presbyterian circles means I'm already on the slippery slope to who knows where!! :)