ture that it is Moses’ understanding of the truth or Matthew’s interpretation of the truth or Paul’s reaction to the truth but never the truth per se. You see, cultural and historical circumstances that surround a statement of the Bible determine how it is to be understood. The new hermeneutic insists that one give full due to the human side as well as the divine side of the Scripture.
We could go on and on to show how the new hermeneutic manifests itself in the churches, but let this serve to show the very seriousness of this error.
We ought to notice that there is really nothing new in the new hermeneutic. What we have at bottom is the question “Who is the standard of the truth—God or man?” More fundamental yet is the question, “Whose voice will man heed—the Lord’s or the devil’s?” The devil does not demand that his word be specifically acknowledged. It is satisfaction enough for him to see that God’s Word is denied. The devil understands very well that to deny God’s Word is principally to give heed to him. The devil is content to let man think that man is the standard of the truth.
Historically the devil was the first to use the “new hermeneutic” when he used the questioning approach to cast doubt on the veracity of God’s Word in speaking to Eve, “Yea hath God said,. . .?” The Roman church with a “new hermeneutic” took the Word of God from His people. More recently the 19th century unbelieving higher critics laid the ground work for the new hermeneutic. There is really nothing new in this hermeneutic, but we recognize the same old attempt on the part of the devil to rob God’s people of the blessed assurance of His Word and to afflict them with the agony of uncertainty.
It is no joy for us to behold the new hermeneutic having its terrible effects in a church very close to us. The Christian Reformed Church is presently caught in the throes of this dreadful error. The roots have grown deeply into the whole life of the church, and the clear fruits are being manifest. When that church, year after year, takes decisions that fly in the face of the clear teaching of the Word of God, there is something terribly wrong. The new hermeneutic is bearing its fruit. The Word of God is being removed from God’s people so that finally only the theologians will be able to be “sure” what is God’s Word in the Bible and what is not. God’s people can sense that something is wrong when pulpits, affected by the new hermeneutic, send forth the sound of uncertainty with respect to the Scripture. The faith of God’s people cries out for the rock-solid testimony of the truth. Let God’s people who are ensnared in such circumstances flee to where the truth is proclaimed with certainty.
Whenever man or a group of men become the standard of the truth, then gone is all the blessed comfort of God’s Word. As soon as one thinks he can find one error in the Bible he no longer believes in the holy Scripture, but in himself. If he accepted everything else as true, he would believe it, not because the Scripture says it, but because it agrees with his own reason or his own sentiments.
The Bible must not be believed just because that is the best logical presupposition, but because the Holy Spirit gives clear evidence in the Scripture that it is God’s infallible Word, and He testifies in the heart of believers that His Word is truth.
As Protestant Reformed churches we must remember with gratitude what God has wrought in the Reformation and what He has continued to do for His church up until this day by preserving her in the way of the truth. We have the old hermeneutic, which principles were rediscovered and clarified through the Reformation. The old hermeneutic begins with the firm conviction that the Bible is inspired in all its parts, that it is God’s Word and therefore it is infallible. The old hermeneutic holds that the Scripture is the only interpreter of the Scripture.
Let Christian scholarship be manifest in our midst not with high-flown theories of men, but in drawing out of the Word the treasures of the truth. That is true exegesis! That is the way of the Reformation.