II. Doctrinal strategy concerning hermeneutics (concerning the doctrine of inspiration, canonicity, Bible interpretation and dogmatics in general)

CRC strives towards a renewed understanding of hermeneutics through identifying un-Christian doctrinal tendencies based upon an either arian or apollonarian view of Christ. CRC believes in verbal inerrancy and holds to the Chicaco Declaration on Hermeneutics of 1984. However, many formally holding to verbal inerrancy come to an apollonarianistic hermeneutics which causes them to miss Christ in the Bible (Jn. 5,39)

I. Following what could be called an "apollonarian" hermeneutics, the human element within the Bible is pushed aside. Like in many cults, a mechanical way of inspiration is believed. The biblical writers were writing their respective texts like spiritistic mediums writing their "messages". This view leads to a phenomenological approach in hermeneutics. Taking the Bible "literally" then usually leads to what Bernhard Ramm in "Protestant Bible Interpretation" has named "Letterism". Any attempt to interpret the biblical accounts in a spiritualizing, allegorical manner is discredited as "tampering with God's word".

A hermeneutics that is anti-religious will have to take the Bible seriously and literally because it is the Bible that supplies the blueprint of the fight against religion. In that sense CRC is also standing up for "fundamentalism". Fundamentalism according to CRC, however, is not leading to a naive non-hermeneutic or even non-theology, letting "the Word stand as it is". A continual reformation against the gravity force of religion means having to take on the responsibility of freeing the Bible from religious misinterpretations. "Letting the Word stand as it is", however, means giving any kind of cult or synagogue the right to lay its foundation with the very Bible that actually should serve towards the erection of bulwarks against religion. Paul did not write to Timothy: "Let people learn the Bible by heart" (even though this is a commendable exercise as such; Timothy himself profited from the Bible knowledge he received from his grandmother). Instead Paul writes to Timothy: "Teach the right DOCTRINE", i.e. vaccinate the people with the right BIBLE INTERPRETATION. Fundamentalism today has to come away from a mere Bible-quiz mentality towards a DOCTRINE and DOGMA-SEEKING mentality if it is to survive.

Apollonarianistic hermeneuticians, while not indifferent to attacks against the Bible, are completely indifferent concerning DOCTRINE and DOGMA. They say: "Let the Bible in peace. Whoever is led by the Spirit, will come to the truth anyway." They completely overlook the fact, that the Bible has to be read in that same human spirit and divine Holy Spirit that led the early church theologians to reject one book as uninspired and embrace another one as inspired and therefore canonical. What were the motives they had for doing so? Were these not theological, doctrinal, dogmatic motives? Why not use these same motives today for the interpretation of what has come to be canonical, i.e. part of the Bible as we have it today? Instead, the apollonarianistic hermeneutician will regard the Bible just as the Muslims regard the Koran and the cults the writings of their leaders. It has fallen from heaven and is above any human investigation as to its origin. Then they fail to interpret the Bible according to an apostolic pattern and come to all sorts of kinky hermeneutical gymnastics and also fall prey to unbiblical interpretation methods such as dispensationalism.

II. The "arian" hermeneutician is taking the human element to an extreme. He may believe in inerrancy, too, but not in verbal inerrancy. He does not believe that God would have been able to direct the very formulation in words of the biblical writer. The biblical writer has just had one initial idea from the Holy Spirit, the rest was flowing from his pencil as his circumstances and his wit and erudition directed him. Certainly God did choose writers that were learned and geniuses. But He could use unlearned farmers and shepherds, too. The "arian" hermeneutician cannot believe that God can lead a man 100%, all of the time, and at the same time letting him unfold his personality, his human passion, his human anger and hurt. Just as Christ was 100% man and 100% God at the same time, the Bible is a 100% supernaturally inspired book and a 100% human masterpiece written in peculiar historical contexts using a variety of vernaculars, stylistic features, wordplays and polemics.

The problem with the arian view that the Bible is not verbally, i.e. word-by-word inspired, is that this leaves room for someone to ask: "I wonder where there is the really divine element in this or that text, and where the writer has "just" been human!" Then the historical-critical Bible interpretation method comes in, dividing the Bible between that which is temporal, human, accidental, historic and that which is eternal, valid for all times and persons and absolutely necessary. The problem arises: Who has the right to decide this? According to which criteria?

Instead of criticizing the Bible, one should criticize the religious abuses of the Bible with the Bible. It is good to read the Bible in a critical manner. However, the motivating question in doing so should not be "Is this text inspired?", but "Have I maybe understood this text in a false way and in fact it means something completely different?". Criticism should not be employed against the Bible but against the abuse of the Bible. Instead of cutting off the branch on which we are sitting we should leave the neutral zone of dogmatic indifference and fight together with the Bible against that which also Christ fought against, namely religion.

For more information, as to how the relation between dogma and the fight against religion hang together, see "CRC's hermeneutic circle"

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