The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology: Key Hermeneutical Issues -- By: David L. Turner
GTJ 6:2 (Fall 85) p. 275
The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology:
Key Hermeneutical Issues
Heated polemical debates over eschatology among evangelicals are deplorable. Covenant theologians are not necessarily “allegorizers,” and neither are dispensationalists necessarily “hyperliteralists.” The NT use of the OT and the complex nature of the present and future aspects of God’s kingdom are crucial topics for future discussion. Such future discussion should focus upon the exegesis of key OT and NT texts, not upon vague or abstract hermeneutical issues.
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Research in the current evangelical literature dealing with eschatology reveals about forty recurring issues in the argumentation. Logic, exegesis, and a brotherly spirit are sometimes lacking in this debate, and often the focus is on peripheral rather than central issues.
This study has isolated three issues which are believed to be central. These issues are (1) the practice (not theory) of literal hermeneutics, (2) the NT use of the OT, and (3) the present and future aspects of the kingdom. And beneath all three lies an even more basic one: the continuity of Scripture in progressive revelation. This study is offered in order to focus further debate upon the central issues and to encourage a courteous spirit among evangelicals who enter the debate.
The Continuity of Scripture and Literal Hermeneutics
Valid and Invalid Approaches
Writers of various eschatological stripes have commonly expressed the view that differences in eschatological systems arise “primarily out of the distinctive method employed by each in the interpretation of
GTJ 6:2 (Fall 85) p. 276
Scripture.”1 Though there is a degree of truth in such a statement, it is simplistic. One’s consistency in taking biblical language literally will have an obvious influence upon one’s theology, but the reverse is also true—one’s theology will have an obvious influence upon his hermeneutics. It is mistaken to speak of either a “literal” or a “spiritualizing” hermeneutic as a purely inductive, overall approach to Scripture. To speak in such generalities obscures the real issue: the interpretation of specific biblical passages. Any study of Scripture involves a certain degree of exegetical, theological, and hermeneutical preunderstanding. Even the cultural and historical circumstances of the interpreter tend to sway his understanding of Scripture, as Gundry has appropriately warned: “We as Christian exegetes and theologians are susceptible to influences from the moods and conditions of our times, and es...
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