Sunday, May 03, 2009

Probably deeper than the cartoonist meant (Pearls Before Swine)

From Pearls Before Swine on 5/2/09:


Trouble is, most people don't let it affect their other plans.

They really should.

(For those keeping hermeneutical track at home: this has been an instance of sensus plenior hermeneutics. I'm okay with it. Except when it comes to the Bible.)

20 comments:

Stan McCullars said...

Pearls Before Swine is a family favorite. This particular comic is very appropriate in that yesterday was my wife's birthday.

NoLongerBlind said...

Dan - I'm not sure what you mean when you say that you don't have a problem with Deeper Meaning hermeneutics, "except when it comes to the Bible".

Are you referring to some sort of inappropriate Eisegetic rendering of any particular text?

Tom

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Dan,

What do you mean "except when it comes to the Bible"?

Julie

trogdor said...

From the linked explanation of sensus plenior, emphasis added:

"In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul gives express instruction for us to see a “sensus plenior” in this passage; and a little later, he says that all the things recorded in the Old Testament were written as “types” for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:11), thus giving us warrant to see a “sensus
plenior” in all the scriptures
."

I'd guess that's what DJP is objecting to. Aside from the interpretation of 1 Cor 10:11 being a little, um... ambitious, the warrant they suggest we have is extremely dangerous. It turns the OT into a sort of easter egg hunt where people try to find Jesus in every detail of every story (that stick Elisha threw in the water to make the axe head float represents the cross... somehow...), with no real bounds on the interpretations that may arise. The worst offenders historically have been serial allegorizors, but even without going to that extreme things can get pretty whacked out on goofballs.

To be sure, type/antitype relationships do exist. The NT identifies a bunch of them - you could do a big study on it just from Hebrews alone. But to go beyond what the NT (or later parts of the OT) specifically identifies as such is just begging for trouble. The safe way to go is to acknowledge those the NT identifies, and that's it. Bronze serpent as a type of Christ? Sure. Boaz's sandal as a type of... um... the blood of Christ which redeems us? Eh, not so much.

DJP said...

Well, it was meant as a bit of obvious humor.

I don't think the cartoonist meant anything Gospelly by his cartoon. I (A) thought it a clever cartoon, and (B) injected my own Gospel notes into it.

Sensus plenior (as the link says) is the hermeneutical approach that looks to find more in Scripture than could, under any honest understanding, ever have occurred either to author or audience. It's how you get Israel=church, for instance. Sure, this prophecy SAYS that Zion will be delivered and experience abundant blessing; but what it REALLY MEANS is that people will find Christ, lose their bad habits, and feel happy and blessed.

Could the prophet have meant that? Nah. Could anyone in his audience even remotely have taken it that way? Nahh. But that's okay. It's the deeper sense.

I don't believe in that as a Biblical hermeneutic. Authorial intention reigns. God spoke TO the fathers BY the prophets (Hebrews 1:1) — not TO us INSTEAD OF the fathers and CONTRARY TO the intent of the prophets.

So what I did openly to the cartoon, I would never do to Scripture. Teeing off of Trogdor's point, sometimes a stick is just a stick.

NoLongerBlind said...

Thanks for the clarification, Dan. I'm surprised to see that on the Monergism website.

Do they espouse that, or, were they just providing the definition of the term?

The last sentence of that link was a very slippery slope, to say the least.

Reminds me of the MacArthur story about his hearing another speaker at a conference he was at preach a message on the rapture of the church, using John 11 - Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead - as his text!
Afterwards, the other man said to John, "Ill bet you've never seen THAT in that passage before!" To which, John replied, "No, I haven't, because it isn't there!"

Tom

Herding Grasshoppers said...

:0)

I think I was guilty of sensur plenior... trying to see more in what you were saying than what you were saying.

I think I get it now.

(*Doh!*)

Julie

DJP said...

Tom, I'm not surprised. They're death on dispensationalism there; I tried to engage Jon on it once, and it went nowhere.

They pretty much have to go for some sort of sensus plenior. NOBODY will EVER get replacement theology out of a grammatico-historical approach to the OT that respects authorial intent. You must have a decoder ring that they did not have. There is no other way.

NoLongerBlind said...

The ring! The ring!

I musts have my precious!

The Squirrel said...

Afterwards, the other man said to John, "Ill bet you've never seen THAT in that passage before!" To which, John replied, "No, I haven't, because it isn't there!"-

MacArthur's actual reply was, "No one has ever seen the rapture of the church in John 11." John can be heard telling that story here.

~Squirrel

NoLongerBlind said...

Thanks, Mr Squirrel!

Tom

Mike Riccardi said...

I've been thinking about hermeneutics lately, specifically as how they apply to the Church/Israel understanding.

One example came up in my devotional reading with my wife. As we read the opening chapters of Exodus and through the giving of the Law, I had made some observations that Israel's slavery in Egypt under Pharoah was strikingly parallel to our struggle with sin under the god of this world. Now, am I wrong to run with that?

Or, is that connection valid, as long as I don't try to say that the authorial intent was to present that typical relationship?

AND, while I'm at it, I'm wondering what you all (and I guess especially Dan) think about divine authorial intent vs. human authorial intent. Are they ever different?

Lotta questions. No pressure. Answer as you're willing.

jmb said...

"Sensus plenior (as the link says) is the hermeneutical approach that looks to find more in Scripture than could, under any honest understanding, ever have occurred either to author or audience. It's how you get Israel=church, for instance. Sure, this prophecy SAYS that Zion will be delivered and experience abundant blessing; but what it REALLY MEANS is that people will find Christ, lose their bad habits, and feel happy and blessed.

Could the prophet have meant that? Nah. Could anyone in his audience even remotely have taken it that way? Nahh. But that's okay. It's the deeper sense."

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In his "Systematic Theology," Wayne Grudem, after quoting Heb. 8 and 10, writes: "Here the author quotes the Lord's promise that he will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH, and says that that is the new covenant that has now been made WITH THE CHURCH. That new covenant is the covenant of which believers in the church are now members. It seems hard to avoid the conclusion that the author views the church as the true Israel of God in which the Old Testament promises to Israel find their fulfillment." (CAPS are portions that Grudem italicized.)

It seems that Grudem thinks that House of Judah = church. How can the Southern Kingdom of ancient Israel be (or become) the church?

DJP said...

It is one thing to say that the covenant is with Israel and Judah, but others are included as well.

It is quite another to say that the covenant is with others, and Israel and Judah are excluded.

If I promise Josiah that I will take him out to dinner, and then take not only him but also his brother and a bunch of kids they don't even know, I've kept my promise.

If I promise Josiah that I will take him out to dinner, and then take his brother and a bunch of kids they don't even know, but not Josiah, I have broken my promise.

jmb said...

Good illustration. Thanks.

Andy Dollahite said...

I'm trying to understand how Judah or Israel are excluded by the ingrafting of the gentiles? Isn't the true Israel a people who pursue righteousness by faith, and this people is known as the Church now that gentiles have been included into the same root stock that had been previously called Israel? I'm sure you've addressed this in greater detail elsewhere. Perhaps you could direct me to that commentary?

DJP said...

If you accept the Biblical testimony that Israel and Judah still have a national future in the land exactly as promised by the prophets, we agree.

If you think that all the prophetic curses were meant literally for national Israel, but all the prophetic blessings were meant "spiritually" for the church, then we're not.

Does that help?

Andy Dollahite said...

Honestly I don't know what I think. I find reasonable and attractive elements in a postmil view such as Doug Wilson's, but I'd be interested in reading more about your view, since you don't seem like the Hal Lindsey dispy. Any recommendations for extended reading?

DJP said...

I think there's a lot of good in Ryrie's 1965 edition of Dispensationalism Today.

I just read (and about about to review, Lord willing) a new book by Michael Vlach. It is less far-ranging and less of a positive argument for dispensationalism than Ryrie's, but it's a good book.

His site also has a lot of articles on the subject, including this one.

jmb said...

Andy - In addition, I'd recommend "There Really is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology," by Renald Showers. If you really want to get into it, there's the 1000+ pages of "Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology," by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

Dan - I have the 1995 edition of Ryrie's book, now titled "Dispensationalism," which I haven't yet completed reading. Is there any particular reason why you recommended the earlier edition?