January 7, 2012 / The Church & Postmodern Culture
This Christmas season I had the privilege of attending a memorial service, a vigil in …
December 23, 2009
The sixth and final engagement with Merold Westphal’s Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church comes from the Reverent Robert Coates (see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, & part 5). Father Robert Coates, SSC, is the Vicar at the St. Augustine’s parish in Bexhill-on-sea in the United Kingdom.
The theory and application of hermeneutics is not only the main arterial process that lies at the very centre of this book; it also
acts as a springboard for the modern day Church in both its application
of both expanding and exploring scriptural analysis.
In engaging with this book I draw enthusiastic strength and
support from Schleiermacher’s theory based upon “the hermeneutical
circle” (p, 28). This definition of the parts of a circle always
having to be interpreted in terms of the whole- and vice versa, thus
revealing that textual tradition is only complete if it is married
along side the agenda of the author.
The Church is the living body of Christ on earth. Her very
function is as a vehicle of salvation for humankind. Although this new
Church rest upon events recorded two thousand years ago her message
must be made seen as an ongoing dialogue – a conversation that
both engages and enlightens society. This is somewhat of a challenge
for many Christians, of all traditions. As stated in the book,
(Chapter 12) “the Bible is the classic text of the Christian Church”,
and therefore it is its only foundation, from which teachings and
doctrine can be traced back to. Without such a foundation the faith
would hold no weight, and therefore its authority would be floored.
In logging on to Chapter 12 one reads of the Church as a
community, and this community is built upon the foundation of sacred
scripture. This dialogue between humanity and its creator reveals a
divine transcendence that utters the voice of God that cannot, nor
should not, be constrained in any academic analytical understandings.
In the pooling together of the main thrust of this reflection
towards a pastoral reaction, it is essential to remember that the grass
roots mission of the church(es) is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. That gospel was composed in a variety of ways, and yet the
passage of time has proved that through the orthodox expression and
teaching of the gospels, different ecclesial communities have found
growth, and a foundation for both their vision and mission.
Chapter 12 speaks of the Bible as being the inspired Word of
God, and this united with the work and movement of the Holy Spirit,
allows not only the pages of the scriptures to be read, and read in a
sense of both understanding of the times, but as the voice of the
creator addresses his creation, but also allows for the mind of
humankind to delve into the pages of the Bible, and to uncover both
reality and truth. Chapter 12 offers the quotation from Ephesus “you
are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ
Jesus being the head cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).
And so to conclude: The Bible is the word of God, bearing witness to the Word, the logos. It reveals the truth of the works of God, from the dusty pages of the Old Testament through to the in-fleshing of the logos
in the pages of the New. However, we must allow the spirit of
understanding to flow through our minds as we read these sacred
scripts, to appreciate fully the contextual construction of the Bible,
and the underpinning reality that as God was revealed as the Divine
logos through the prophets, this same divinity became human in the Word
made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth.