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The Place of the Holy Spirit in the Exegetical Process

 

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.
—Psalm 119: 18

I. Introduction

In every generation there remains a perennial concern for all conscientious pastors, teachers and Christian workers. The question arises how can we, who have been entrusted with the ministry of expounding God’s word make it clear and relevant while at the same time maintaining fidelity to the author’s original intent? Furthermore how can we, coming from the framework of a Pentecostal or Charismatic tradition, integrate our distinctives in the exegetical process? More specifically with our emphasis on the Holy Spirit, what can He be expected or not expected to do in the preparation of our messages?

To date, the task of this integration process has not always produced legitimate results. Many theological aberrations abound in our circles, which cause a great deal of heartache and confusion among our people. The suggestions that follow are an attempt to help full-gospel ministers proclaim the Word of God with greater clarity and possibly curb careless abuses from our pulpits and lecterns.

The general thesis of this article is: In order to be relevant and responsible we need to subscribe to a legitimate hermeneutic: One that maintains the integrity of the author’s meaning via grammatico-historical exegesis, while at the same time, one that elicits a real, personal and “experiential” (or “existential” some may prefer) response on the part of the reader or hearer via the illumination of the Holy Spirit. With this in mind let us explore how the Holy Spirit interacts within the matrix of the text and reader and faith and reason.

 

II. Interpreting I Corinthians 2:14

Basic to any discussion of the Holy Spirit’s role in illuminating the Biblical text is one’s view of inspiration. What is the nature of God’s revelation to man? Is it verbal prepositional truth embodied in the Biblical record or is it an experiential encounter with God independent of the author’s intended meaning? Does one discover God’s meaning via the grammatico-historical method or by direct illumination by the Spirit? Has God superintended the writings of Scripture to the extent that the “author’s view” is God’s view? What is the nature of Scripture itself? One’s view of the Holy Spirit’s role in the interpretive process will be greatly determined by how one answers these questions.1

“How can we, coming from the framework of a Pentecostal or Charismatic tradition, integrate our distinctives in the exegetical process?”

According to Paul in I Corinthians 2:13 the vehicle for divine disclosure was by the instrumentality of words “Not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit.” In the following verse Paul explains: “but a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 1999

About the Author: William J. Pankey holds a M.A. in Christian Education from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (Springfield, MO), a M.Div. equivalent from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Ill.), a M.I.L.S. from Dominican University (River Forest, Ill.), and a D.Min. also from Trinity Evangelical. He has served as a spiritual leader in a Philadelphia Messianic congregation, and pastored at Bloomingdale (Ill.) Assemblies of God Church from 1986 till 1994. He is Professor and Coordinator of Library Technologies at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

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