Warning: This is not a well thought out research project. It is a matter of personal rumination, that I want to discuss with the group for the sake of gaining insight. Consequently, expect to find personal bias, agitation, incredulity, and hilariousness herein.
It has always perplexed me to see how scitzophrenically Christians utilize the Old Testament. As one who spends a fair amount of time training people to interpret Scripture, watching the sloppy implementation of sound hermeneutics being lobbed “Hail Mary style” at the Old Testament is much like watching the bocce event at the Special Olympics (now, if you are a bocce player, a special olympian [James?], or just sensitive – get over it. I think the analogy works on many levels).
I know what many may already be thinking, “Okay, fine, you’re so smart – why don’t you just tell us (Oh, Great and Wonderful Hermeneutical Rhetorician – [henceforth GWHR]) how we ought to be interpreting the Old Testament?” However, the sophisticated and intelligent reader will immediately know this would be the worst thing I, the GWHR, could attempt for several reasons not limited to, but including… /1/ Nothing I am capable of producing would encompass the greater history or tradition of Christian Scriptural exegesis (does such a hermeneutic even exist?), /2/ The internet trolls would seize my post and proceed to argue over whether to make soup or pancakes out of it.
The trouble with trolls: they love picking at minutiae, but rarely have anything productive to contribute to an ongoing dialogue.
/3/ I am not annoyed about any particular hermeneutic, I am annoyed at our seeming inability to systematically apply ANY hermeneutic to the Old Testament.
Really, the crux of my complaint contends with the catastrophic conceit that no one really knows what to do with the Old Testament, so they just do whatever the hell they please with it. When did the Old Testament become the cecal (read, “appendix”) of Christ’s Body? We have some exegetes claiming that the Old Testament (especially the Torah) is totally in effect, some claiming that it is only partially in effect, some claiming that it is null and void, and some claiming that only elements which adhere to God’s person matter. With all of these hermeneutics, you would think that some could find one and stick with it. Nonetheless, such machinations of the interpetively literate seem to escape even the cleverest of them.
I watch in utter horror as some (many times the same person, if not the same group) will use the Old Testament to prove that homosexuality is an abomination, that tatoos are a sin, that polygamy was not part of God’s plan for marriage, that we should not pay a 10% tithe, that the United States’ war on Iraq was justified, etc. etc. The problem, of course, is that this is the same person/group utilizing three different hermeneutics in order to manipulate the outcome that they want. All those who agree please join me in a collectively exasperated, “WTF?” With all of this inflamation from ego, culturally derived ethics, and personal self-soothing, Christ’s body will surely suffer appendicitis. Will we then have to just cut the Old Testament off in some kind of Marcion inspired bris before we suffer a rupture?
(I hope the more perspicacious among you will enjoy the added level of irony accorded to that last bit of rhetoric – allow the GWHR to include this explanation for the trolls: its funny because I talk about chopping up phalluses [weiners], and such a practice finds justification in the Old Testament, which is what we are going to chop).
This is a link to a discussion going on over at AGThinkTank that I believe demonstrates my point well. Go, my lovelies, read it and ponder the fate that we will ultimately suffer, and then discuss among yourselves. How do we solve such a conundrum? Is a solution even desirable?