Redrawing the Line between Hermeneutics and Application

Brian A. Shealy | August 25, 2009

Bernard Ramm foresaw the hermeneutical problem among evangelicals that would arise through the advent of the New Hermeneutic. Hermeneutical theorists have departed from grammatico-historical principles and embraced the subjectivism of the New Hermeneutic. They are recommending a system that incorporates the step of application into the hermeneutical process, thereby confusing definitions of hermeneutics, exegesis, meaning, and interpretation. Dangers that the confusion brings include those of encouraging a man-centered interpretation, allowing cultural application to change meaning, and advocating a reader-response type of interpretation as well as others. To overcome those dangers, interpreters must be sure of their goal, determine what is normative, develop doctrine, and put into practice the lessons dictated by the meaning of a passage. The only way to achieve this is to redraw the line between hermeneutics and exegesis.

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