What is the point of even having a preacher/teacher?
- To lead people to Christ?
- To teach necessary spiritual truths for growth in Christ?
- To equip the saints for every good work?
- ‘Cause that’s what we do?
Well, no matter which of these we give most importance, it is done primarily through teaching out of the Bible. Whether exegetical or topical, it all comes from an interpretation of scripture. So whether a preacher/teacher is using twelve different versions of the Bible to teach her mega-church about prayer, or whether he is explaining what the verse “really means” in Greek to his small circle of home school co-op’ers (or anything in between) they are both consciously and subconsciously developing the hermeneutical skills of their listeners.
Take the example of the pastor who loves to explain what the passage “really means” in Greek, but more importantly is trying to set the context so his audience can understand what the author was trying to communicate to their readers.
- Consciously he is explaining that interpretation can best occur when we understand the context of the author, the reader and most importantly (to him) how the language was used. In doing this he is giving his listeners many great hermeneutical tools to help them interpret their Bible with.
- Subconsciously he is inferring that these tools are the only way to “really” or correctly interpret the text. In doing this he is handicapping his listeners in that the clarity of Scripture is now unavailable apart from a Seminary education (not to mention how many people that now try to understand Greek without any background education).
Now let’s look at the example of the Purpose Driven pastor who uses texts as obscure as the New Guinea Technological Convention Paraphrase of a second hand reading of Jude.
- Consciously she is showing that no translation has a monopoly of contextualizes the ancient language and exposing ourselves to different texts will open up our understanding of the scripture.
- Sub-consciously she is teaching her readers that instead of standing under the text and letting it interpret us, we are to stand over the text and interpret it and use it for what we want.
It is important for those of us who teach to realize that, although it never seems to make it’s way to the list of reasons we have a preacher/teacher, both consciously and subconsciously we develop the hermeneutic of our listeners every time we preach. May this put the fear of God into us as we prepare, pray and preach to both Christians and non-Christians.