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Understanding is literal historical ...

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In Biblical interpretation one has only two paths to establish oneself in understanding...
subjective: God speaks to me through Scripture: it sounds real spiritual, but it then could mean anything to anyone's personal view...
objective: God uses the literal historical means to communicate one message to all peoples and groups in all times...
I like what Ryrie says to this:
snip

Quote
 
The Dispensational Position
Literal hermeneutics. Dispensationalists claim that their principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation. This means interpretation that gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking. It is sometimes called the principle of grammatical historical interpretation since the meaning of each word is deter mined by grammatical and historical considerations. The principle might also be called normal interpretation since the literal meaning of words is the normal approach to their understanding in all languages. It might also be designated plain interpretation so that no one receives the mistaken notion that the literal principle rules out figures of speech. Symbols, figures of speech, and types are all interpreted plainly in this method, and they are in no way contrary to literal interpretation. After all, the very existence of any meaning for a figure of speech depends on the reality of the literal meaning of the terms involved. Figures often make the meaning plainer, but it is the literal, normal, or plain meaning that they convey to the reader.
The literalist (so called) is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols, are used in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is, simply, that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to the received laws of language) as any other utterances are interpreted - that which is manifestly figurative being so regarded.
Many reasons are given by dispensationalists to support this hermeneutical principle of literal, normal, or plain interpretation. At least three are worthy of mention at this point.
Philosophically, the purpose of language itself seems to require literal interpretation. Language was given by God for the purpose of being able to communicate with mankind. As Gordon Clark says,
If God created man in His own rational image and endowed him with the power of speech, then a purpose of language, in fact the chief purpose of language, would naturally be the revelation of truth to man and the prayers of man to God. In a theistic philosophy one ought not to say that all language has been devised in order to describe and discuss the finite objects of our sense - experience. . . . On the contrary, language was devised by God, that is, God created man rational for the purpose of theological expression.
If God is the originator of language and if the chief purpose of originating it was to convey His message to humanity, then it must follow that He, being all-wise and all-loving, originated sufficient language to convey all that was in His heart to tell mankind. Furthermore, it must also follow that He would use language and expect people to understand it in its literal, normal, and plain sense. The Scriptures, then, cannot be regarded as an illustration of some special use of language so that in the interpretation of these Scriptures some deeper meaning of the words must be sought. If language is the creation of God for the purpose of conveying His message, then a theist must view that language as sufficient in scope and normative in use to accomplish that purpose for which God originated it.
A second reason why dispensationalists believe in the literal principle is a biblical one: the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Christ - His birth, His rearing, His ministry, His death, His resurrection - were all fulfilled literally. That argues strongly for the literal method.
A third reason is a logical one. If one does not use the plain, normal, or literal method of interpretation, all objectivity is lost. What check would there be on the variety of interpretations that man's imagination could produce if there were not an objective standard, which the literal principle provides? To try to see meaning other than the normal one would result in as many interpretations as there are people interpreting. Literalism is a logical rationale.
Of course, literal interpretation is not the exclusive property of dispensationalists. Most conservatives would agree with what has just been said. What, then, is the difference between the dispensationalist's use of this hermeneutical principle and the nondispensationalist's? The difference lies in the dispensationalist's claim to use the normal principle of interpretation consistently in all his study of the Bible. He further claims that the nondispensationalist does not use the principle everywhere. He admits that the nondispensationalist is a literalist in much of his interpretation of the Scriptures but charges him with allegorizing or spiritualizing when it comes to the interpretation of prophecy. The dispensationalist claims to be consistent in his use of this principle, and he accuses the nondispensationalist of being inconsistent in his use of it.
Notice, for instance, the predicament one writer gets himself into by not using the literal principle consistently. He recognizes that some insist on a literal fulfillment of prophecy whereas others see only a symbolic meaning. His suggestion is that prophecy should be approached "in terms of equivalents, analogy, or correspondence. " As an example of the application of this principle he mentions the weapons cited in Ezek 39 and states that these will not be the exact weapons used in the future war; rather, equivalent weapons will be used. But suppose this principle of equivalents were applied to Mic 5:2. Then any small town in Palestine would have satisfactorily fulfilled the prophecy of where Christ were to be born. If the Bible says "like chariots" or "like Bethlehem" (which it does not), then there may be some latitude in interpretation. But if specific details are not interpreted literally when given as specific details, there can be no end to the variety of meanings of a text.
Consistency. In theory the importance of the literal principle is not debated. Most agree that it involves some obvious procedures. For one thing, the meaning of each word must be studied. This involves etymology, use, history, and resultant meaning. For an other thing, the grammar, or relationship of the words to each other, must be analyzed. For a third thing, the context, immediate and remote, must be considered. That means comparing Scripture with Scripture as well as the study of the immediate context. These principles are well known and can be studied in any standard text on hermeneutics.
(from Dispensationalism, Copyright © 1995 by Charles C. Ryrie. All rights reserved.)
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