Wednesday, July 06, 2011
An Exegesis of Experience?
Certainly, for most of us, our theological bent is driven by a combination of influence of mentors and teachers, or personal experience combined by study. I most certainly fall into the latter category, most of my mentors had theological views different than my own, Some of them leaned Reformed/Calvinist, and others held Pre-Tribulational eschatology views, in one case a very influential mentor is from the Word of Faith camp - and I am none of these.
Since my theology is influenced most by my own study, I must be honest to admit that there is a high degree of personal experience which informs my theological views as well. In part because my own experiences with God have been so dramatic, and in part because my experiences with life have sometimes been the stuff tall tales are made of.
Here is where I wonder how eisegesis and exegesis might seamlessly meet one another to create one body of movement toward truth.
The Apostle Paul appears to have been excessively influenced by his dramatic experiences with Christ: along the Damascus Road, being caught up into the heavens in visions, and through a life of persecution. His reading of the Old Testament is most definitely influenced by his interactions with Christ, and his reading of the scriptures was therefore born from this experience in which God seems to have implanted truth into Paul. It was an exegesis of life and experience. This in turn seems to have influenced Paul's writings, and he then interprets the Old Testament anew in the light of his experiences.
I read the New Testament - especially the Gospels differently than I did 5 or 6 years ago. My experiences in life have helped me (or is it simply "caused me," without necessarily carrying a beneficial element?) to see some scripture in a different light.
Does God communicate truth through experience to us, and then open our eyes to see things we might have been previously blind to? If so, it seems then that He is working through an exegesis of experience, and then allowing us to take the lessons learned in our experience and find them in scripture.
If this is the case, God appears to be seamlessly, although dangerously interweaving exegesis and eisegesis together to form truth in us. I tremble under the thought of this being a mode of truth communication. To see it in the Apostles and Prophets is one thing. To see in ourselves is another, and this makes the interpretation of scripture all the more baffling - especially since I still hold to the belief that scripture is not of any "private interpretation."