Hermeneutical and existential approaches to biblical interpretation, symbols, and preaching: how to keep the integrity of a doubly-committed theologian
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It is required for a theologian, who is committed to both faith and theology, to keep integrity in order to not lose the continuity between them. This may cause two serious inner problems. The first is with the authenticity of one’s personal faith, because the theologian, due to the theological training, no longer see the Bible in the way s/he used to do. And the other is with the vocation of contributing to the faith community, because the theologian, due to the recognition that pious expressions of faith are not technically accurate, may feel uncomfortable with using religious language especially when preaching. The first problem could be solved by establishing hermeneutical perspective on the biblical interpretation, which shows the impossibility of literalist reading of the Bible and the importance of readers’ existential self-understanding in interpretation and thus affirms diverse interpretations to be authentic. Also, one of the most distinct features of Christianity is the translatability—to translate requires interpretation—of the Bible under and into particular contexts. Accordingly, the form of Christian faith does not have to be so universal that an individual believer’s interpretation is seriously prohibited. The latter problem may be deleted if one understands the nature of symbolic language, the use of which is necessary in revealing the truth and thus enables a doubly-committed theologian to help the Church. For something ultimate and infinite can never be gripped by something contingent and finite. In so doing, however, one must bear in mind that the symbolic language also unavoidably distorts that which is symbolized.