Monday, May 6, 2013

Characteristics of a Hermeneutical Community - A Believing Community, but a Community Beyond the Local Church?; In the series: GEMEINDETHEOLOGIE: Who & How?

If this community is defined in terms of an independent hermeneutical body of believers, another question poses itself. Is there not a danger in creating such a hermeneutical community that potentially isolates itself from the rest of the world? Fowl understands that there is always the potential that there might be something wrong with how a hermeneutical community interprets Scripture. Consequently, he suggests that the community should be "willing to subject their interpretive practices to scrutiny and criticism." This scrutiny obviously can come from within, but can also come from members of different Christian communities, or even those outside any Christian community.[1] Ens points out that Hubmaier did envision the possibility of the local church erring in its conclusions and therefore was open to the scrutiny of a wider council.[2] Yarnell highlights the fact that the Anabaptists' belief that "the Spirit spoke to the entire community as it read the Scripture together encouraged the Anabaptists to seek conversation with other Christians." This resulted in their willingness to participate in debates even when it resulted in their persecution and execution.[3] In Anabaptist writings, one often can find open pleas for their enemies to correct them if they are wrong, as long as their enemies only used Scripture to do so. So one can say that this community, while independent from other groups, should be open to the scrutiny of other Christians.[4]

[1]Fowl, Engaging Scripture, 82.
[2]Ens, "The Hermeneutical Community," 81-83.                                                                                                    
[3]Yarnell, The Formation of Christian Doctrine, 100.
[4]We see here the traditional pattern of associations seen throughout Baptist history. Churches who are independent, but who associate for the sake of missions, help, and to demonstrate unity amongst Christians.

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