I fully admit that there are certain things that tend to make me erupt. Certain triggers that makes me bark like that Russell Terrier next door. One of these happens to be dispensational hermeneutics. Now a little back story. I came to Christ during the heyday of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth. I grew up in what can only be called a liberal protestant church so the first time I was exposed to the concepts of the imminent return of Christ, the rapture, the tribulation, I was scared spit less. I didn’t want to be “left behind”.
Later on I went through a series of teaching at the Bible church that I was attending called “God’s plan for the ages” In it I learned what can only be called “classic dispensationalism” Seven dispensations or economies, separation of Israel and the Church and the “grammatical-historic hermeneutic”.
So on twitter I was asked why I didn’t like the “grammatical-historic hermeneutic” and I replied:
Yes everyone replies with that statement as if that was the problem instead of the wooden literalism they thrust upon it.
Which is a bit snarky I will freely admit and let me apologize for the snark right now. But it is true it isn’t the “grammatical-historic” method or interpreting. In R.C.Sproul’s book Knowing Scripture he lists this method as one of the interpretive methods used to understand the text of scripture. What I dislike is the presuppositions that are applied to the method that tend to skew the results.
For instance it has been my experience that those that follow the dispensational method of grammatical-historic interpretation (here to be known as DMGH) tend to down play the genre of the text and the theological implications of the text. Take the case of Sarah and Hagar.
In Galatians 4 Paul takes the historical narrative regarding Sarah and Hagar and says they are metaphors for two types of covenants. But that violates completely what you would interpret from that story in Genesis but Paul adds a theological interpretation that wouldn’t be allowed under the strict literalism of dispensationalist.
And there lies the problem I have with DMGH it must be always the literal meaning even though there are multiple times that isn’t how the text is being interpreted by other writers of the scripture. Examples Matt 1:23 ~Isa. 7:14 following DMGH Isa. 7:14 can only be fulfilled in the time of Ahab and in fact according to Isa. 8:1-4 Isaiah’s son actually fulfilled the prophecy. Yet Matthew says this applies to Jesus. So there must be something more than just grammar and history regarding this interpretation there is a theological genre that must be added to it.
This wooden hermeneutic which IMHO does more damage to the text by not considering the total: Grammatical, historical, genre, and theological method which is I believe the more fuller method of biblical interpretation.