positivistic, and historist approach to biblical interpretation that these same American Evangelicals (originally known as Fundamentalists---I realize they are not the same exact thing, socio-culturally, but Evangelicalism still operates, linguistically and doctrinally from the same historical moorings that their parents, the Fundamentalists taught them) were decrying. They were fighting against the penetration of historical-criticism into the halls of what used to be 'Conservative' American Christianity (like that represented at Princeton, with B.B. Warfield & co.); and yet they chose to fight fire with fire instead of using water to put the fire out [I'd like to try fighting this historical-critical fire and its penetration into American Evangelicalism with the fresh and everlasting water of Jesus Christ ... the kind that once a person gets a drink of she/he never want anything else again]. Jens Zimmerman provides a good sketch, and helpful substantiation of my oft assertions in this very regard; Zimmerman writes,
Modernist interpretation emphasized historical-critical reading of the scriptures that modified or denied the Bible's own claim to be divine revelation and largely abandoned the biblical text as a unity. As a result, other texts gained more importance, and hermeneutics came to be conceived more broadly, comprising secular literature as well. Historical criticism is, of course, enormously important for any textual work. The historical-critical school, with its application of scientific method and positivistic approach to the biblical text, however, forces texts into the Procrustean [sic] bed of an Enlightement framework and rationalist standards, lopping off offending and bothersome textual elements and unenlightened statements with almost Puritan zeal.
Modern fundamentalists [and Evangelicals] who react against this so-called liberal theology unfortunately proceed from the same assumption as the "enemy," namely, that a text can have only one normative meaning but many possible applications, which can never become normative. Premodern interpreters by contrast possessed superior interpretive concepts, such as progressive revelation and typology, and were more keenly aware of the multiple layers of textual meanings. Their view of God's word as a vehicle of typological exegesis, the idea of sensus plenior [fuller meaning], and the analogy of faith renders fundamentalist notions of stable, unitary meanings highly problematic. Yet fundamentalist interpreters cheerfully continue to use modernist principles in their defense of theology, a highly unhelpful strategy of entrenchment, the zeal of whose practitioners does little to conceal the increasing irrelevance of their effort. [brackets our mine] [Jens Zimmerman, Recovering Theological Hermeneutics: An Incarnational-Trinitarian Theory of Interpretation, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004), 22-3.]
If this is juxtaposed with my last post on dispensationalism, it becomes clear how dispensational hermeneutics came to be; they are simply a re-telling of an centuries old American interpretive schema (with German origins) that has been employed over and over again within American biblical exegesis and exposition. Such that, the capacity for folk who have sat under the sway of this sometimes bellicose system of interpretation have become incapacitated to critically make a distinction between their system of biblical interpretation and the actual biblical narrative and its primary meaning.
Again, this post only really gestures towards the more 'Christ-conditioned' approach that I want to advocate for. Adam Nigh, an contributing author to our book has offered good development on how I would like to move forward in understanding a doctrine of scripture, an ontology of scripture (its place relative to God's own Self-testimony and speech for us); and how these two realities implicate a system of interpretation (hermeneutics) that finds its orientation intensively in its reality, Jesus Christ. Adam's chapter is entitled The Depth Dimension of Scripture: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Calvinism [Chapter 3]. Adam sometimes ;-) blogs over at Out of Bounds.
Anyway, as usual, there is more to be said; and I will try to say more as this living thing known as my blog continues to give expression to more of my flowering thoughts on such things and more (of course).