The Holy Spirit and the Hermeneutics of Scripture in the Community of Faith

Brian McKinlay


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All Christian theological hermeneutics attribute a role to the Holy Spirit in the human understanding of theology and the scriptures. Yet views on the Spirit’s role in interpretation differ markedly. Some see the Holy Spirit as self-effacing, working through human thought and traditions and others attribute more directly discernible interpretive activity to the Spirit. The Biblical witness is that the Holy Spirit is actively engaged in assisting followers of Jesus Christ to recall and understand Jesus’ words and to interpret (and reinterpret) Biblical texts. Most theologians and church traditions alike agree that the fruits of interpretation can and usually should be moderated ecclesially. There is considerable diversity, however, as to how this should and might occur. I conclude that none of the established approaches to pneumatological hermeneutics should necessarily dominate. Rather, I would opt for something of an ‘all of the above’, reflecting perhaps the Spirit’s own great diversity of action. The Spirit calls individuals to hear the Spirit’s voice and to interpret and proclaim the Truth afresh. The Spirit interprets God to us ‘spirit to spirit’. Nevertheless the interpretive work of the Holy Spirit—pneumatological hermeneutics—is above all the living experience of the community of faith.