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Francis Beckwith gives a quick lesson on hermeneutical discrepancies (in the context of ecumenical dialogue) that I found concise and worth posting. The comment comes from conversation about Ligon Duncan’s interpretation of the Fathers.
Joey Henry asks Bryan: “What makes your interpretation better than Dr. Duncan then?”
What sort of answer do you expect to this question? It really can’t be answered at the high level of abstraction at which you ask it. These sorts of issues–whether or not one is interpreting an author better than another reader–can only be resolved by getting your hands dirty. Pick the author, the relevant texts, and each make his case.
Suppose I were arguing with Mr. X over whether the Bible is discussing tennis when it states in Genesis that Joseph served in Pharoah’s Court. If I say “no” and Mr. X says “yes,” it’s just strange to then ask me, “What makes your interpretation better than Mr. X’s then?” The only thing that “makes” it better is that it explains and accounts for more than Mr. X’s and is consistent with everything else we know about ancient Hebrew and Egyptian practices. Bryan is making such a case contra Dr. Duncan’s case. After he makes the case you don’t ask “What makes your interpretation better than Dr. Duncan then?” since, for Bryan, it’s his case that does it. So, if you think he’s wrong, get your hands dirty. But short of that, asking conversation-stopping non-questions at levels of abstraction not appropriate to the inquiry is a complete waste of time.
I apologize if that sounds snitty, but if I roll my eyes one more time I’m not sure I will be unable to remove them from underneath my forehead. 🙂
If reformers were more reformed, they would be more refined in the graces of kindness, gentleness, meekness, compassion, and the rest of those fruits of the Spirit that amount to nothing more than love.
The Internet Monk warns Reformed folks who love to read John Piper stuff not to follow him on everything.
(HT: Internet Monk)
UPDATE: iMonk entertains my question about which of Piper’s teachings he is concerned about. The following comes from the thread of his comment.
1) Christian hedonism can very easily be construed as a Gospel of works rather than sola fide, esp when we say that we are commanded to delight in God in all things.
2) Piper’s pastoral use of his Edwardsian view of the Sovereignty of God has led to some uses and pronouncements that seem very deficient in pastoral wisdom and compassion.
3) I think some of his teaching in the past intentionally bred fanatical applications, esp in regard to martyrdom.
4) I believe he is of two minds on C.S. Lewis and needs to make a clear statement in regard to whether Lewis is an orthodox teacher of the Gospel.
5) I sense a lot of God-centeredness at the expense of Christ-centeredness. Edwards over Luther.
6) Mark Dever once said in an interview, when asked for a brief summary statement on a variety of contemporary reformed men, that Piper was ruthlessly logical. I would agree, and I think that is the difference in the Piper we heard before his Romans study and the one we hear now.
I like Piper and have benefited from him a lot.