Waddell Again on Hermeneutical and Ideological Assumptions

There’s a pretty good paragraph here on p. 180, which can be applied, well, to just about any matter involving doctrine and practice.

The Procrustean bed of hermeneutical assumption can be a dangerous and even deadly game of losing the trees for the forest, and for that matter the forest for the trees. We must never place our ideological assumption beyond the reach of close scrutiny or the critical examination of scripture and the confessional witness. It is the ongoing task of the church in every age to clarify its hermeneutical assumptions and methodology regarding its theology and practice of liturgy in light of cultural and scientific change. Genuine theological divergence over the truth of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments must never be glossed over. Yet differences of opinion over humanly instituted, external rites and ceremonies in liturgy are unnecessarily divisive to the unity of the church. How can we constructively put this distinction into practice for the sake of the church?

What Waddell writes here strikes a chord, particularly because it seems that some have recently pronounced that the adoption of a doctrinal statement by a church body decisively places that statement beyond “the critical examination of scripture and the confessional witness.”

One thought on “Waddell Again on Hermeneutical and Ideological Assumptions

  1. Very interesting paragraph, and certainly an important philosophical issue. I would question whether it’s even possible to govern our own hermaneutics. …we’d just wind up with a “hermaneutic of hermaneutics,” which we’d then have to examine and govern closely.
    Or, put another way, aren’t one’s assumptions going to dictate the judgments that one makes in evaluating his own assumptions? If they are truly assumptions, then one can’t escape them.
    I believe this is what Aristotle referred to as “infinite regress.”

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