The Impotence of a Defective Hermeneutic
By Louis Rushmore, Editor
of a defective hermeneutic can be demonstrated in a number of ways. For
instance, Christians who surrender the biblical hermeneutic, which includes
apostolic or divinely approved example and warranted inference from divine
implication, could not establish and
The impotence of a defective hermeneutic can be seen by to what it not only reduces divinely given, biblical instruction, but by what it does to the vehicle of communication in general. For instance, the assertion that Bible authority relates only to commands or direct statements is false because it erroneously supposes that approved examples and implications from which one must make inferences are not part of human communication. Yet, the same mechanisms for communication between people are the same mechanisms of communication between God and mankind, only some people are reluctant to acknowledge the application of God’s communication (the Bible) to them. “There is no essential difference between the study of the Scriptures and the study of any other subject, respecting the mental outlay necessary to success” (Dungan 16). “…the child learns…from his parent’s (sic) commands, their example…by necessary inference…” (Kearley 57). “The ability to learn this way [necessary inference] is basically called common sense” (Kearley 58). “There has been no new hermeneutics in the worlds since God endowed Adam and Eve with the ability to communicate and understand communication. Genuine hermeneutics and hermeneutical principles are inborn in the human brain” (Kearley 58). Regarding “authority,” Kearley noted correctly, “The process is the same everywhere” (Kearley 58). “…clearly, in the normal realm of human activity, authority is established by: 1. commands… 2. examples… 3. necessary inferences…” (Kearley 60). “Logic, family activities, the history of nations, and law and the study of businesses and every institution prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that authority for human behavior is established by commands, examples, or judgments and necessary inferences” (Kearley 72).
The young child who pleads with a parent for or against something will often go to great lengths, including citing the example of or the implied approval of an action based on what Mommy and Daddy do. The following, ill-advised, parental instruction never did anything for me in my childhood, and it is generally ineffective: “Don’t do as I do, but do as I say!” The expression grants that example and implication are universally recognized as effective avenues of communication and the basis of authority as well.
In truth, there are three avenues of interpretation, including biblical interpretation, by which truth (including divine truth) can be known. Note the following: (1) Biblical Examples for Commands or Direct Statements, (2) Biblical Example for Apostolic or Approved Example, and (3) Biblical Example for Implication and Inference.
Biblical Examples for
Direct Statements (Mark 16:15;
Purportedly, opponents of approved examples and divine
implications in the Bible believe that commands or direct statements (i.e., in
the New Testament) alone constitute applicable religious instruction.
Nevertheless, divine implications and corresponding (necessary) inferences must
be employed to deduce: (1) that the New Testament rather than instructions to
Adam and Eve or Noah or Moses, etc. are applicable today, and (2) that some New
Testament commands, but not all New Testament commands, are applicable today
(e.g., “thy kingdom come,”
Biblical Example for
or Approved Example (Acts 20:7).
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (N
Biblical Example for Implication and Inference.
“Inference may be used legitimately in the ascertaining
of facts, and also in the conclusion reached from them. …Abraham went down from
The Bible, the same as every other form of fruitful communication, relies upon the three possible mechanisms to accomplish that transferring of information: commands or direct statements, approved examples and implications from which warranted inferences must be drawn. There is no new hermeneutic wherein approved examples and implications (and corresponding inferences) are ineffective. Rather than a new hermeneutic or a commands and direct statements only biblical interpretation, this platform more uniformly fogs, disguises and ultimately dismisses (rejects) legitimate divine revelation that most certainly is applicable in our day. The agenda and result of this new hermeneutic is to reduce the inspired, Holy Writ to merely love letters from God, which by their nature bear no authority and have no effective application (no prohibitions, anything essentially goes, according to one’s preferences). A so-called new hermeneutic that dismisses apostolic example and implications from which correct inferences must be made is an impotent, defective hermeneutic, providing no effective instruction from God in this life and promising no satisfactory eternity in the life to come.
Dungan, D.R. Hermeneutics. Delight: Gospel Light, n.d.
Flatt, Bill. “The Function of Presuppositions and Attitudes in
Biblical Interpretation.” Biblical
Interpretation: Principles and Practice. F. Furman Kearley and others eds.
Kearley, F. Furman. “Establishing Biblical Authority: The Function
of Command, Example, and Inference.” Biblical
Interpretation: An Ancient Book Speaks to a Modern World. Duane Warden, ed.
Robertson’s Word Pictures in
the New Testament.
Thayer, Joseph. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. CD-ROM.