On Hermeneutics and Eschatology
Central Baptist Theological Seminary Faculty
All faculty at Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis affirm a hermeneutical system that interprets all Scripture with a consistently literal or normal method. We also affirm the paradigm of grammatical, contextual, theological, historical exegesis with a view to discerning authorial intent.
We all hold that the same hermeneutical principles must govern the interpretation of both testaments. We reject any approach that asserts, for example, that Old Testament prophecies concerning the first advent, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ should be interpreted differently from Old Testament prophecies concerning the second advent and the earthly rule and reign of Christ. There is no New Testament hermeneutic that supersedes an Old Testament hermeneutic.
We all believe that points of correspondence exist between the Old and New Testaments. Some of us limit this correspondence to correlation that is explicit in the text. Others assert a correlation that seems more textually implicit, understanding some points of correspondence to expand or enhance the earlier revelation on which they were based.
In our commitment to literal interpretation, we encounter some New Testament passages whose connection to Old Testament antecedents is less obvious. Some passages might be taken to imply a fulfillment of items from Old Testament prophecies that cannot readily be found in the language of the prophecies themselves. Some of us understand those New Testament passages to be something other than actual fulfillments, e.g., analogies. Others of us understand that the New Testament author has, in fact, seen a genuine fulfillment, elements of which expand the meaning of the original prophecy.
We all believe that at least two participants were involved in the writing of any biblical autograph: a human agent and God. Some of us frame our understanding of this relationship by focusing on the “unitary” nature of this authorship: a confluence or concurrence in divine-human authorship in such a way that just as the human author’s wording was the very wording of God (no more or no less), even so the human author’s meaning is the very meaning of God (no more or no less). Others of us frame our understanding of this relationship more in view of the “binary” nature of this authorship: a cooperation of divine-human authorship in such a way that although the human author’s words were the very words of God (no more or no less), the meaning of the divine author might in some way be found fuller, heightened, or more expansive in later revelation. In both cases, we reject the notion that New Testament interpreters are adding meaning that is not somehow present in the Old Testament texts.
We all recognize that major eschatological prophecies and promises made to national Israel have not yet been fulfilled in the terms established within the prophecies. We further believe that the veracity of God demands the complete fulfillment of all of His promises made to Israel as a national, political entity. Such belief is grounded in the literal or normal interpretation of the covenants, promises, and prophecies that originated in God concerning Israel. Some of us affirm that some eschatological promises made to Israel in the Old Testament have been inaugurated in the present dispensation and yet await complete fulfillment in the future. All of us reject any application of the hermeneutic of inaugurated eschatology that would obliterate the distinction between Israel and the church and negate the literal, eschatological consummation of Old Testament promises and prophecies.
We all affirm belief in a future earthly reign of Christ in literal fulfillment of all biblical prophecies and promises regarding the eschatological kingdom. We also all affirm that the reign of Christ will be preceded by Daniel’s seventieth week, a time of tribulation, and that all Church saints are promised exemption from this tribulation through a rapture that will occur before its beginning. Furthermore, we reject any approach that replaces the gospel of personal salvation with the social benefits of the kingdom during the present age, or any approach that replaces personal evangelism with social activity.