Subscribe via RSS Feed

Paul L. King: Hermeneutics in Modern and Classic Faith Movements

Hermeneutics and the Classic Faith Movement

In contrast with most contemporary faith teachers, the major classic faith teachers and their predecessors, by and large, had received a scholarly theological education, as was customary at the time. George Müller was a brilliant scholar, fluent in six languages, yet merged together scholarship and a vibrant faith. John Wesley, Andrew Murray, Thomas Upham, A.B. Simpson, Oswald Chambers, and R.A. Torrey were all seminary-educated and studied the classical languages, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Simpson won academic awards for his scholarship. Jonathan Edwards was president of Princeton in its early days. Charles Finney was trained in law. Torrey was highly educated as a graduate of Yale University and Yale Divinity School, and read the Bible in Greek, Hebrew, and German. Charles Blanchard served as president of Wheaton College. A.T. Pierson wrote a book on hermeneutics.

Before his death in 2003, Kenneth Hagin acknowledged there were problems with some prosperity teaching and emphasized the need for interpreting Scripture in its context.

Others who themselves were not scholars nonetheless availed themselves of academic materials and submitted and confirmed their teachings with academics. Phoebe Palmer conferred with her husband who was a medical doctor and theologian. D.L. Moody became close friends with renowned professor Henry Drummond. Hannah Whitall Smith consulted pastors and theologians and pastors regarding her teachings, and wrote a booklet on interpreting the Bible. Amy Carmichael studied the Greek New Testament and scholarly reference material and commentaries. A.W. Tozer and John MacMillan, though never completing high school, read voraciously the church fathers, mystics, reformers, and classical writers and theologians. MacMillan learned Greek and Hebrew through self-study, conversing with rabbis, consulting with professors, and attending college and seminary classes. Spurgeon obtained a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and read broadly a variety of classic writings.

Still, these classic faith leaders were not stodgy academics or ivory tower theologians who had little vital experience in a walk of faith. Rather, they walked close to God and practiced a life of daring faith, yet studied intensively, practically applied exegesis to life, and relied upon the Spirit to illuminate interpretation. Seminary-educated Murray counseled both the need for study and for revelation, saying, “As all the Word of God is given by the Spirit of God, each word must be interpreted to us by that same Spirit.”15 Simpson was concerned with grammatical-historical hermeneutics, but also perceived that God had provided much divine symbolism in Scripture: “It would be a great mistake to read the Bible only symbolically. But it is beautiful to see hidden truths beneath the history.”16 This is not to say that classic faith writers all had interpretations that would be accepted by scholarship today or that they would always agree with one another’s interpretations in all matters.

Pin It
Page 3 of 512345

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Summer 2012

About the Author: Paul L. King holds a D.Min from Oral Roberts University and a D.Th. from the University of South Africa. He served for 16 years on the faculty of Oral Roberts University as Coordinator of Bible Institute programs and Adjunct Professor in the College of Theology and Ministry. Author of 12 books and more than 60 articles, he was ORU 2006 Scholar of the Year. He has also served as Scholar-at-Large for the D.Min. program at Alliance Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry Mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars program at United Theological Seminary and Global Awakening Theological Seminary, Leadership and Church Ministry Consultant and Trainer, an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Interim Consulting Pastor for the Plano (Texas) Chinese Alliance Church, and Faculty Director of Purdue Ratio Christi/Christian Faculty and Staff Network. His books include God's Healing Arsenal: A Divine Battle Plan for Overcoming Distress and Disease (2011), Anointed Women: The Rich Heritage of Women in Ministry in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (2009), Only Believe: Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies (2008), Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance (2006), Binding & Loosing: Exercising Authority over the Dark Powers (1999), and A Believer with Authority: The Life and Message of John A. MacMillan. Twitter: @PaulLKing.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?