This book (or small library of books!), Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) has been a huge help to me in the past four years (as I mentioned here a few years back). This week, in my studies, I’ve been re-reading book 5 of this tome, Science and Hermeneutics by Vern Poythress (I also just set down his excellent The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses). Here in chapter nine of Poythress’ contribution, he talks about the lessons we can learn from the fact that all our knowledge is contextual (i.e. theory and presupposition laden). One specific lesson I appreciated was humility in Christian knowledge, or in my terms, epistemological humility.
“We must remember that, though the Bible is infallible, our own understanding of the Bible is not. Hence some practice of critical self-doubt, in light of the Bible’s search-light, is in order. As long as this doubting criticizes ourselves, rather than doubting God or doubting the Bible as God’s Word, we are acting in conformity with Christian standards” (p. 504).
This really has to do with Christian humility: now we see in a mirror dimly and know in part (1 Cor 13.12). It has to do with pilgrim knowledge: we’re travelers on the way, learning as we go. The gospel truth is not something we own, possess, or master, but an awesome announcement we trust in and try to live according to (and it keeps changing us!). We’re pilgrims in via – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.