Monday, December 03, 2007

The Hermeneutics of Convenience

I find it interesting how arbitrary we Christians can be with respect to what we think is Scripture's clear position on various hot-button issues. What most discussions amount to, at the end of the day, is that the Bible condemns all the things I don't like, while the things I approve of either enjoy the divine stamp of approval, or are at the most unaddressed, or murkily so.

So if you're an American evangelical, then the Bible obviously condemns abortion, while the War on Terror is tantamount to Israel's storming of Jericho. The fact that the former position rests on little direct biblical evidence while the latter rests on bad eschatology seldom comes up, if at all.

If you're a European or British Christian, on the other hand, you are most likely passionately in favor of movements like Make Trade Fair and movies like SiCKO (both of which are considered by Americans as rather liberal).

The same "wink, wink" tactics are employed in the political arena. While Republicans and Democrats disagree over whether the Iraq War is being fought correctly, there is little discussion over whether the U.S. has the right to invade other countries if it sees fit to do so. The two parties may differ on the degree to which the federal government should spend money on social programs for the poor, but there is complete agreement on the glories of the free market.

Regardless of which kingdom we're dealing with, and of what our personal convictions may be with respect to it, it is certainly a healthy thing to lay aside the hermeneutics of convenience every now and then and allow our sacred cows to be challenged. Maybe we'll end up standing our ground, but at least we'll have the benefit of saying that we weren't afraid of a little scrutiny now and again.