Christ, The Savior of Biblical Interpretation?
In 1988 Vern Poythress wrote an intriguing article for the Westminster Theological Journal titled, "Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation." Poythress' point in the article is to highlight our need for the saving work of Jesus to free us from faulty biblical interpretation. Jesus is center of revalti0n and Savior of faulty interpretation. Summing up his argument with these words about Christ and the hermenuetical circle, Poythress writes:
hermeneutical self-consciousness can be an instrument that we use to discover, criticize, and root out sin. But it can be so only if our own self-consciousness is purified by the work of Christ. In other words, our hermeneutical reflection must itself be an instance of "working out our own salvation in fear and trembling, because God is at work in us both to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil 2:12-13). On the other hand, hermeneutical self-consciousness can easily become a way of saving ourselves instead of believing in God's salvation. Then it becomes a curse. From this curse as well Christ came to save us. Christ in his death suffered the destruction of his own understanding (Matt 27:46) in order that in his resurrection he might communicate to us perfect wisdom (Luke 24:45). Christ's cry of dereliction in Matt 27:46 is so deep that it is not exhaustively analyzable. But we can say that Christ's suffering included great intellectual and emotional distress, not merely physical pain. As a man he ceased to understand himself, because in his intellectual agony he did not comprehensively understand the action of God toward him. By contrast, in his resurrection he perfectly understands himself, because out the fullness of Messianic accomplishment and wisdom he communicates what all the Scriptures say about him (Luke 24:44-45). Christ undergoes, as it were, a hermeneutical death and resurrection with respect to his understanding of himself and the OT, in order that we may be saved from our hermeneutical sin.