The Three Words Necessary for Good Biblical Interpretation.

Herma and Herman Neutics on Biblical Interpretation

We recently read about a gathering of lay people from a mainline denomination. They were discussing things they would like to see more of from pastors in the denomination. The #1 thing they wanted to see was . . . well, we'll get to that in a moment. It strikes us that this top choice applies not just to pastors but to all of us, especially as we work at interpreting the Bible.

The #1 thing these folks want to see in their pastors was humility. The three words that captured humility for them was "I don't know" (or we don't know).

The pressure to know, or at least pretend to know, is great in our culture at this time. Especially in the academy. But the worst thing we can pretend to know is the Bible. This attitude cuts off genuine conversation and debate and precludes building a community which can hang together and love, honor, and respect one another even in the midst of deep disagreement or honest acknowledgment that we do not know. The old saw "they won't care how much you know until they know how much you care" is quite relevant to the practice of humility. "They won't care how much you don't know if they know how much you care."

Let's care enough to say "We don't know" when we don't and extend the same grace to one another. These three words cover a multitude of sins!


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