Hermeneutics Down Under

Warm spring weather, the gorgeous Barossa Valley (and its wines), and engaging conversation over the Scriptures and how we hear them — a tough way to spend a week.

Last week, the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) hosted a “Hermeneutics Symposium” which involved leaders from a wide range of Lutheran church bodies. The president of the LCA, Rev. Dr. Mike Semmler, described the symposium as follows

‘The symposium gave LCA theologians and our current and future leaders exposure to theological opinions beyond its own bounds’, said LCA President Rev Dr Mike Semmler. ‘It was a starting point by which to deal biblically with the LCA’s approach to the challenges of a rapidly changing society.’

A report on the symposium can be found on the LCA website. For myself, I found the conversations to be highly informed and honest. The purpose of the symposium was not to “resolve” any issues (as if three days of discussion could), but to help think about how all these different voices approach the Scriptures and sort through why they so often differ. That these conversations could take place without turning rancorous was, to me, hopeful. When faced with challenging topics, too often we turn only to those we know will agree with us; this makes discussion easy, but fruitless. Rather than uniting, it ends up excluding and dividing.

If we think we have all the answers and the Spirit’s Word under our control, all that will result is “puffed up” thinking. The Spirit works through his Word, in his Church. Only by hearing the Word, even at times through those in the Church who may not agree with us, can our own flaws and self-serving thinking be revealed. Amazingly, sometimes this can even happen without anger, resentment, and division. “The one who has ears, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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