Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Goldsworthy on a Heretical Hermeneutic

Quietism is a term with a history, but I will use it loosely to describe the tendency to overspiritualize and dehumanize Christian existence, including the way we use the Bible. We have seen it in the 'let go and let God' holiness piety. Overall, it is an inclination to downplay the function of our humanity in life, as if our relationship to God is almost entirely passive. It leads to strange aberrations, for example in the matter of guidance. Just as the historic heresy of Docetism either denied or ignored the humanity of Jesus, so quietism tends to leave our true humanity out of the reckoning. The quietist's docetic Christian is one who 'doesn't make any decisions because the Holy Spirit makes them for us'. Such a person is also likely to construct a docetic hermeneutic of Scripture. The human characteristics of the biblical documents are ignored. Historical and biblical-theological contexts are regarded as irrelevant. If a text 'speaks to me' in whatever way, the careful exegesis of it is dismissed as cerebral intellectualism. The gospel is neatly eclipsed by what exists beneath a veneer of spiritual commitment. Such quietists would be offended if it were suggested that they denied the humanity of Christ. But the gospel can only be the gospel if it is the message of the Word-made-flesh. We can effectively deny this vital truth simply by ignoring its implications in the way we use the Bible and in the manner of our lives.

- Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation, pp. 168-169

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