Home > Bible Study, eschatology, hermeneutics, Horatius Bonar, John MacArthur, Worldview, Young Earth > The Slippery Slope of Inconsistent Hermeneutics

The Slippery Slope of Inconsistent Hermeneutics


John MacArthur’s “Grace to You” blog has been doing a good series through the importance of origins and why Genesis 1-3 is important.

Much could be said on this topic, and often people get distracted by periphery issues.  But the foundational issue is that of hermeneutics and how we handle God’s word.  How one handles the first chapters of Genesis is indeed key to how that person approaches the rest of the Bible.  After all, if one doesn’t believe God at the very beginning, why should that person believe everything else God has to say?  The result is at best an arbitrary and inconsistent hermeneutic — if Genesis 1 and 2 is poetry, then where do you decide to join in and agree?  Genesis 4? Or Genesis 6? Or Genesis 11?

In my own observations of one such deviant teacher, who reasons that Genesis 1-2 is poetry — and thus reveals how ignorant he really is concerning Bible interpretation — I have seen where such reasoning leads to in handling many other areas of scripture.  I’ve blogged often about this before, in reference to understanding of eschatology and even the improper handling of narrative texts such as from the life of David.

To those who would claim it is no big thing to reject a literal Genesis 1, and that one can still be a solid Christian, believing the true core doctrines of the faith, I would submit such case examples to show that such people are headed down a slippery slope that results in inconsistent hermeneutics and sloppy exegesis (at best) and further into outright heretical views.  At best, it shows blatant disregard for the actual word of God and elevates man’s own mind and man’s own creativity, since such an approach to the Bible encourages superficial understanding, a surface skimming over depth of study.  This really isn’t surprising, since by its very nature the allegorical approach is contrary to exposition of a text.  If the actual words of the text really mean something else, why bother studying the actual words when you can just skim the surface and supposedly “get the gist” of what the text is saying.  Refer to Horatius Bonar’s strong words about this in my last post.

The way off the path, away from good expository preaching, has many variations of man’s ideas, but here is a sampler of one such preacher who veers off at Genesis 1-2 and staunchly holds to Hugh Ross Progressive Creation:   he skims over the prophets and claims the only idea taught there is the future glorious age of the Church.  Then his allegorical mindset looks at the life of King David and focuses on David as a type of Christ, and therefore David as a type of Christ in his humanness (and sinful things), exalting David as somehow less prone to sin than the rest of us, with such claims as that when David decided to go over to the Philistines (1 Samuel 27) it was because he really had no choice — completely ignoring the obvious understanding that this was human weakness and not trusting in God; and allegorizing the story of David and Abigail to be talking about intercessory prayer (never mind that the person Abigail was supposedly interceding for, Nabal, was subsequently judged by God).  Naturalism, looking at things from the human viewpoint, takes precedence over God and the supernatural — obviously so when looking at creation and rejecting the obvious understanding of a recent creation and global flood catastrophe, more subtly when claiming that David had no choice in his circumstances (1 Samuel 27), and again more obviously in the outlook concerning things yet to be — there, declaring that the judgment plagues in Revelation will really be accomplished by man destroying himself through nuclear and chemical warfare.

Such must be the result when one ignores what scripture actually says in favor of generalities, allegories and sloppy pick-and-choose hermeneutics — Bible ignorance, and great inconsistency in recognizing that the past plagues in Egypt were supernatural, but because of mankind’s great technology now, the future judgments really must be accomplished by man.

John MacArthur once told of how one of the laypeople at his church had written up a lengthy paper about the doctrine of the rapture, to help his own understanding.  Yet as MacArthur pointed out, if a layperson can study a biblical topic to that extent, what excuse is there for the rampant mediocrity among those who presume to teach others?  Many pastors have never spent as much time studying all the biblical doctrines combined, much less that much time to understand one topic.

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