Tuesday, August 21, 2012

exegesis vs. eisegesis


noun \ˌek-sə-ˈjē-səs, ˈek-sə-ˌ\
: exposition, explanation; especially : an explanation or critical interpretation of a text 


noun \ˌī-sə-ˈjē-səs, ˈī-sə-ˌ\
: the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas

In presenting the Bible, preachers are given these two means of interpretation.  One is a specific and intentional explanation of the passage of Scripture (exegesis), whereas the other is an interpretation taken from reading a text, or multiple texts, from the Bible (eisegesis).  I don't think that I can say one is better than the other, or that one is more right than the other, because I believe fully that the Holy Spirit imparts revelations and knowledge to those who are in Him through His Word.  I know that I have been ministered to through both exegetically preached sermons as well as sermons that were driven eisegetically.  

When I think of eisegetical preachers, my mind is first drawn to many Baptist preachers that I have heard throughout my life.  The sermons typically have a specific topic the pastor wants to convey, such as "Living a Christ-centered Life," or "How to be Men and Women of God."  They then usually have a main passage of Scripture with which they use to support the sermon, as well as other various verses added here and there for different points, and proceed to discuss how to live out whatever it is their topic is. 

As far as exegetical preachers, I instantly think of preachers/theologians such as John Piper, and Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas.  I have heard both men preach on several occasions and was each time intrigued and absolutely satisfied in the way they spoke directly from the Scripture.  The sermons were not exactly topical, although since they were taken from a larger portion of Scripture, the sermons did have a main theme.  Instead of the theme coming from the pastor however, it came directly and clearly from the Word of God.  I think that is what was so satisfying for me.  The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that "all Scripture is breathed out by God."  So if God breathed these words, then I don't see how it could not be powerful enough to speak to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Like I said before, I appreciate the value in practical applications that are offered by preachers who take a more eisegetical approach to the Word, but at the same time I cannot deny the power of the Word of God when preached exegetically, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to transform the lives of the hearers.

These are definitely just my thoughts.  I am no theologian, but it is something that interests me, and I thought I'd take a moment to write down what I was thinking.

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