Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dr. Horner and Hermeneutical Presuppositions

I had the chance today to listen to Chris Arnzen's interview with Dr. Barry Horner about his new book, Future Israel. Dr. Horner has several A Millenarians upset about the premise of the book. Dr. Sam Waldron writes in regards to Dr. Horner's book that “Amillennialism is necessarily more or less anti-Semitic”. Dr. Horner wishes to convey this idea while calling Amillers anti-Judaistic. He admits during the interview that he did not want to use "anti-Semitic" because the other term is less insulting.

What I found interesting during the interview is that Dr. Horner admitted he was not upfront about his own presuppositions. This came out very clearly when Chris Arnzen mentioned that his Dispensational Premillenial position might be coloring his interpretation. Dr. Horner denied this saying he was going to the Bible and using the Historical Grammatical approach. Yet is there not more to exegesis than just assuming your hermeneutic is agreeable? Of course conservative Christians believe that using the Historical Grammatical hermeneutic is a fundamental method of interpreting the Scriptures. Yet to think it just that simple is to deny other factors that plainly affect the conclusions we arrive at.

Chris Arnzen raised a great question about a passage of Scripture that showed Dr. Horner’s hermeneutic to not only be flawed, but a hermeneutic that would not even be shared by John McArthur (Who endorsed the book strongly). The passage Chris referred to was 1 Peter 2:9-10,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dr. Horner’s response was simply amazing. He asked the question, “Who was the letter written to?” (which is a good question). His conclusion was that since Peter was writing to Jews, that he could not be referring to Gentiles. Now this is fascinating. If Dr. Horner is going to be consistent with the hermeneutic or interpretive method, and being a 5-point Calvinist, how would a Gentile such as myself be truly of the Elect? For example, Jesus in John chapter 6 verses 35-45 speaks of election by God’s Sovereign freedom. If we look at the audience it is clear that I was not there. Therefore I am not one of the “All that the Father has given to the Son…” So how could he possibly establish that I, a gentile Christian who was not there, could look to Christ as that infallible Savior, who saves men perfectly since that text only refers to Jews by the Lake?

Perhaps we could go to Ephesians chapter 1 and see that God sovereignly chooses the elect. But wait! I wasn’t in the audience. I wasn’t even a member of First Ephesian Church of Ephesus. So the wonderful passage of election doesn’t apply to me…right?

My point really is simple, even if I communicate it badly. Hermeneutical presuppositions do matter. Hiding presuppositions because you think they are not a part of the argument is na├»ve at best. A man with a doctorate should realize this before he publishes a book referring to Christian brothers as anti-Semites simply because they hold a position that sees God’s true Israel as being filled with both Jews and Gentiles.

Sam Waldron has written a book on this subject, which I believe is most helpful, End Times Made Simple. I would attempt to read Horner’s book, but like Dr. Waldron, I think I too would have to “pray for grace and patience not to fire it across the room”.


Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

I wonder what he says about James 1:1?

Howard Fisher said...

I guess we could just pitch that epistle.