Friday, February 15, 2008

Origins of the Hermeneutic of Trust

Another Excerpt from
by Paul Elliott

(pg 245 -246)

The term “hermeneutic of trust” is not new, and the concept originated not in the field of theology but in the secular field of language philosophy. The “hermeneutic of trust” was popularized by the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) in his books Truth and Method and Philosophical Hermeneutics. Gadamer, though not a theologian himself, was a close associate of the existentialist theologian Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), a main spokesman for modern liberal/skeptical methods of Biblical interpretation. [Host Note: Bultmann has been very influential in the development of the philosophy embraced by the Emergent Church.]

Gadamer asserted that the hermeneutic of trust applies to any area of society, not just theology. Gadamer denied the existence of objective truth. Correctly interpreting a text, he asserted, does not mean correctly understanding the original intention of the author. Rather, Gadamer argued, interpreting any text – whether it is a piece of literature, a nation’s constitution or the Bible – involves what he termed a “fusion of horizons.” In this “fusion,” a “community of interpretation” made up of scholars and other so-called experts decides what that community’s view of “truth” will be. Each participant contributes his perspectives to this mix. According to this bankrupt philosophy, a community standard of “truth” is the best that men can hope for. There is no objective truth.
[This reminds me to the Federal Vision concept of hermeneutics as an "intuitive art" versus the traditional view of a serious discipline. Is this Federal Vision "intuitive art of hermeneutics" actually an hermeneutic of trust? Hmmm.]