America’s Hermeneutical Crisis

IMG_0691.JPGIs it proper to say that Western Culture is in the midst of a hermeneutical crisis? Allow me to enumerate the several symptoms that I observe in order then to determine whether the list constitutes what I have prematurely labeled it.

The chief struggle in the current cultural difficulty is best described as an inability to find common ground of agreement in order to move forward with what is best for the American people as a whole rather than its partisan interest groups. That inability is anchored in an unwillingness to compromise on any level for the sake of finding such common ground. That unwillingness is defended through the exercise of intellectual dishonesty in many cases, while in other cases, there seems to be a genuine inability to distinguish truth from falsehood, good from bad.

An example of *unwillingness* working in tandem with *inability* can be seen in the current crisis having to do with what might be called gender confusion or gender fluidity. Here we observe souls (at least some of which are sincere) who are genuinely confused about their gender (i.e., a woman identifying internally as man, etc). Helping these sincere souls along are those people (many of whom I am convinced have no genuine sympathy) not plagued with such gender trauma and yet, because of the pressure (or the prizing) of political correctness, are willing to placate the gender confused by agreeing to call them Bill instead of Betty, or vice versa.

The hermeneutical crisis I am imagining manifests itself in people who are unable to discern or interpret their own lives within the context of normalcy and therefore create new categories for themselves, while on the other hand, are enablers who are willing to rewrite the cultural “text,” if you will, to include the gender-confused because by doing so they feel they can further their own cultural cause, get some extra votes (if they are politicians), vindicate a family member, or perhaps even garner the acceptance for their own sins in some way.

To put the matter in cruder terms, more and more, people are deciding to interpret cultural/political/social events in a way that supports their agenda rather than to interpret them factually, based on a commitment to truth, regardless of how it affects their agenda.

So, in the same way that some scholars are willing to twist a text in order to make it support their beliefs, people in Western Culture are proving that they have little to no commitment to rightly discerning the daily events and circumstances which make up the average American life.

It’s not my intent to discuss the problem of gender confusion though some will not be able to get past that example. My purpose instead is to examine the hermeneutical approach to the events of daily life taken by the average person in Western culture, particularly the average American.

The word *hermeneutics* is of course a terribly uninteresting word to the uninitiated, but expounding it and explaining how it applies to the average person is the best way forward.

In a counseling appointment with a man who is unruly in the church I observed again how distinctly from the norm some people arrive at truth. Such a distinct approach is almost impenetrable. The difficulty is bound up in the discussion of authority. One of the heritages from the enlightenment, as harmful as it may be at times, is the admonition to appeal to your own reason to arrive at truth and not depend on a book, an organization, etc.

So, yes  America—the West—has chosen to “rewrite” the cultural text so that it says what they want to to say. That’s a hermeneutical crisis.

 

Vanessa Hudgens Accused of Cultural Appropriation After Sharing Dreamcatcher Pic

I’m sorry, but the fact that Cultural Appropriation is a thing is another of the strange and ludicrous things happening in our culture today! It’s right up there with transgender bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and small land animals evolving into whales!

How many of the people who complain about this terrible offense are wearing crosses as earrings or necklaces, or have one tatooed on their body? How many of them wear clothing (a sports jersey, etc.) not because they are fans but because they like the look? Should I feel bad for wearing a Penn State Nittany Lions cap because I like the way it fits?

The bigger issue here, of course, is how fragile the people of Western Culture have become. We are so easily offended!

Source: Vanessa Hudgens Accused of Cultural Appropriation After Sharing Dreamcatcher Pic

Waiting for the Utterance…

75c698b093fbe8504d666901de0a33f5I speak in tongues. I am so thankful to be a Pentecostal believer. I would not want to be without that special experience and the ongoing strength that it brings.

I know that there are many (usually charismatic believers) who have the conviction that one can pray in tongues at will, any time. I am content to leave each to their own convictions and I believe one has to work out, with God, their own approach to spirituality. I rejoice that they speak in tongues! But I for one find great confirmation in waiting on the utterance.

The Language of Utterance

The language of utterance comes from Acts 2:4. Here it is in context:

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The KJV actually says, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The idea being, of course, that they did not speak in tongues at their own volition but, rather, that the Holy Spirit made them able to, prompted them, etc. So, the view of classical Pentecostals is that the same principle applies going forward: the Holy Spirit at specific times, with whatever frequency, enables the Pentecostal believer to speak in tongues.

Scriptural Evidence

I once asked someone who believes that one can speak in tongues at will where he found Scriptural evidence to do so. He was unable to answer the question. That’s OK. I offered him an answer for the next time someone asks. I told him that I could see how one might see the giving of utterance as a one time act, good from now on. (I don’t think that interpretation can hold up grammatically. The text implies that they only spoke in tongues as he gave them utterance. The utterance given would seem to have a beginning an an end just as their speaking in tongues did on that occasion. Logically, if the Holy Spirit is always giving utterance wouldn’t we be grieving Him if we are not at all times speaking in tongues?)

At any rate, I know there are those who see it that way. But, here is how I find encouragement and confirmation in waiting for the Holy Spirit to give the utterance. When I am praying, there comes a moment when I recognize the Spirit’s urging to pray in tongues. I don’t pray in tongues because I think it is time to, nor do I pray in tongues because I think it will be more efficient (wouldn’t we need to pray exclusively in tongues if that were the case?). I also don’t pray in tongues because I arrive at the conclusion that I don’t know what to pray for. I pray in tongues when I sense the freedom from the Holy Spirit to do so. In a distinct, unmistakable moment in time I go from not even thinking about praying in tongues to being certain that the Holy Spirit is praying through me. In that moment I know that He, the Holy Spirit, is praying according to the will of God and that “he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:27).”

The Variety of Language

I believe there is an added benefit to waiting for the utterance and that is that I very often experience and utter a unique language. That is, it is not the same phrases every time, but rather news words that come forth.

Have you ever noticed that some people, when they speak in tongues, always seem to be saying the same thing? Now, I can certainly allow that there would be some things that the Holy Spirit would pray consistently in a person’s life. But, if we are indeed speaking a language, it would seem that there would be fresh words and tongues coming forth as the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and for the world relevant to the times we are in.

Renewed Faith

Over the years, the enemy has tried to convince me to doubt my faith in God and even my belief in God. That’s his job. But one of the things that he simply cannot refute or take away from me is the reality that I have experienced what the New Testament calls the “baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).” Every time the Spirit gives me the utterance, He confirms Scripture, the reality of the existence of God, and the veracity of the Bible all over again.