A Fundamental Flaw: Perceived Hermeneutical Autonomy

Dr. Richard Beck wrote recently on his blog a post titled, "Emotional Intelligence and Sola Scriptura." He makes some excellent points regarding the lack of self-awareness by many who claim only to interpret what the Scripture "clearly teaches." Here are some excerpts:

"I once quipped at a conference that a fundamentalist is a person who thinks he doesn't have a hermeneutic...We all have a hermeneutic. We are all interpreting the text to some degree. We are all privileging--deferring to--certain values, doctrines, creedal commitments, traditions, or biblical texts. Something somewhere is trumping something else...The only question is whether you are consciously vs. unconsciously using a hermeneutic. 

Fundamentalists are interpreting the text unconsciously. Fundamentalists are interpreting the text right and left, they are just unaware that they are doing so. When your hermeneutic is operating unconsciously it causes you to say things like "this is the clear teaching of Scripture." 

Basically, fundamentalism--denying that you are engaged in hermeneutics--betrays a shocking lack of self-awareness, an inability to notice the way your mind and emotions are working in the background and beneath the surface.

I think statements like "this is the clear teaching of Scripture" are psychologically diagnostic. Statements like these reveal something about yourself. Namely, that you lack a certain degree of self-awareness…What I am saying is that when we approach the issue of sola scriptura--using "the bible alone"--there is more to this than pointing out the ubiquity and necessity of hermeneutics. There is also the issue of emotional intelligence, the degree to which you are reading the bible with a degree of self-awareness.

Many fundamentalists seem to struggle with emotional intelligence. Which might also explain why fundamentalists also struggle with things like empathy and emotional regulation (e.g., anger).

Perhaps this--a lack of emotional intelligence--is the root problem with fundamentalism, both biblically and socially."

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