From Jim McGuiggan... A Christocentric hermenutic

A Christocentric hermenutic

It’s no controversial claim to say that the central character in the Bible is God and not man. It’s not controversial to say that in the Bible God reveals himself not in the abstract but always in relationship to his creation. We know nothing about God in the abstract and what Karl Barth said of him is true, he does not will to be God without us. The only "biography" we have of God shows him related to us.

If it’s true that the central character in the Bible is God then any approach to Bible study or proclamation that obscures that truth is a bad approach.

We could go to the Bible and extract from it a thousand proverbs and countless answers to moral questions without ever saying a word about God himself. Even atheists and critics of the Christian faith have been known to do that. We can quote the Golden Rule and call people to live like that and think little or nothing about God or Jesus Christ. But to treat the Bible that way—as a storehouse of moral opinions and wise maxims—is to make moral opinions and wise maxims the central reality in scripture. As in music, a million written notes can’t be played unless there’s a clef written in the staff, so it is biblically that all the maxims and opinions in existence have no meaning unless God is there to give them meaning.

The Christian would insist that in Jesus Christ, God has revealed himself as completely as it is possible to reveal himself in a human life. Jesus is the express image of God’s person and when we see and know him we see and know the Father. If this is true then we should treat Jesus as the means by which we get to know the central character in the Bible. Our approach to understanding God must then be Christocentric. Any approach that deviates from that obscures God’s self-revelation.

And if it’s true that at the cross everything—in principle—about Jesus Christ is made known then our approach to the Bible should be Christocentric and cruciform. This doesn’t mean that we should read or speak about only crucifixion texts but it should mean that we work at seeing how all other texts enable us to understand the cross of Christ so that it will in turn open our eyes to everything else. Our approach to scripture must be Christocentric if it is to be Theocentric. It’s God we’re after!

This means that our study habits and approaches should work to get to know Christ. The tools we use (lexical, grammatical, historical, literary or whatever) should be wielded to reveal him. But beyond the tools of the trade, beyond the questions of techinque our hearts must seek him. We’re after more than information—we want to form and deepen a relationship with him and so with the Holy Father.

And if we get to know God by getting to know Jesus we also get to know man as God eternally intended him to be—in God's image.

Churches and ministers that fill us full of moral opinions and do not lead us to Jesus Christ by whom we have access in the Holy Spirit to the Holy Father are doing us an injury.