Hermenutics is, as you know, the rules — the art and science — of interpretation. Christians will think about it with reference to the Bible and that’s one use of the word. But there is also cultural hermeneutics where the character of a society is studied. There’s a hermeneutic related to interpreting the Constitution. Mormons have a hermeneutics. So does Islam.
The object of a hermeneutic may be singular but the conclusions reached are often quite different. That’s why we have Christian denominations. It’s why the sects of Islam exists, and there is more to it than who is the rightful successor of Mohammed. It’s also why social scientists struggle to figure out a variety of questions — like how millennials or blue collar will vote or spend their money. In other words it’s a term that has a lot of applications. It’s not “our” term in any sense of the word.
That said, the richer our hermeneutic (going back to Bible study) the richer our understanding of God, for God is the object of our study. That’s why subsequent posts are going to push us just a bit. Hermeneutics is not just for pastors. We all do it all the time when we read anything. The question is whether or not we are doing it consciously and intentionally, with forethought and planning, or whether we are being casual and careless in our reading.
There is a dualism that is common in our society, that the mind is separate from the emotions and passions. Study, for too many, is a mental experience. Devotional reading, on the other hand, is the spiritual experience. It is in devotional reading that the Spirit grabs you and does His work in your “heart.” But that’s not right. The mind is not separate from the “heart,” the seat of our passions and sensibilities. These are part of the mind. The dualism between the mind and heart quickly falls apart.
The solution is a new frame of reference. What if we studied with the same sense that we expect out of our devotional reading? What if we read with the expectation that the would show Himself when we look at outlines and themes and conjugations and declensions? Then, what would be the result if re changed our casual and less intentional devotional reading to something intentional. We could read for content, building on the studies we have already done. We could read with more in mind than an emotional uplift or some undefinable “spiritual” experience.
Your seat of thought and your seat of desire and feeling are one in the same. Use them together to know Him better.