The Hermeneutics Quiz
Scot McKnight creates a tool to uncover our biblical blind spots.

As you read this, the winter issue of Leadership is hitting mailboxes. One of the more provocative features of the issue will no doubt be a hermeneutics quiz created by Scot McKnight. The issue's theme is, "Is Our Gospel Too Small?" To help answer that question, we invited McKnight to develop a simple tool to assist church leaders in diagnosing their own biases and blind spots with Scripture. In the introduction to the quiz, McKnight says:

I'm curious why one of my friends dismisses the Friday-evening-to-Saturday-evening Sabbath observance as "not for us today" but insists that capital punishment can't be dismissed because it's in the Old Testament.

The quiz is comprised of twenty multiple-choice questions designed to surface the decisions we make, perhaps without thinking about them, and how we both read our Bible and don't read our Bible. Here are a few sample questions:

The Bible's words are:

A. Inerrant on everything.

B. Inerrant on matters of faith and practice.

C. Not defined by inerrancy or errancy, which are modernistic categories.

The commands in the Old Testament to destroy a village, including women and children, are:

A. Justifiable judgment against sinful, pagan, immoral peoples.

B. God's ways in the days of the Judges (etc.): they are primitive words but people's understanding as divine words for that day.

C. A barbaric form of war in a primitive society, and I wish they weren't in the Bible.

The command of Jesus to wash feet is:

A. To be taken literally, despite near universal neglect in the church.

B. A first century form of serving others, to be practiced today in other ways.

C. An ancient custom with no real implication for our world.

After answering all 20 questions, your score is plotted on a hermeneutic scale ranging from Conservative (20-52), Moderate (53-65), and Progressive (66 or higher). McKnight offers helpful analysis concerning the strengths and weaknesses of each of these ways of interpreting Scripture, and he reveals how his own use of the quiz produced some surprising results. He writes:

I was surprised by the low score of an emergent friend and the high score of a professor at a very conservative Christian college. Some answer progressively on one controversial issue (say, women in ministry), while answering conservatively on others (homosexuality, for example).

We invited a few regular Leadership/Out of Ur contributors to take the quiz and report their scores. Here's what they had to say.

Dan Kimball is pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, a columnist for Leadership, and the author of a number of popular books including The Emerging Church. QUIZ SCORE: 62

January 21, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 34 comments


October 04, 2008  11:06pm

I scored in the middle 20's. I think you're treading on dangerous waters when you start viewing the Bible, God's word, as moderate or progressive in light of the increasingly diluted society in which we live because you could say you're giving the society the interpretation that they want to hear. God never changes...He is inerrant and righteous...and the intrepretation of His Word should not either.

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April 12, 2008  1:22am

I should point out that I answered #3 on question 10 giving me a moderate answer no matter how you look at it. I scored 59 overall.

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April 12, 2008  1:20am

I love question #10. The most conservative answer is the most individualistic, the most liberal answer is the most communitarian. In my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, the more moderate/liberal element would answer with the most conservative answer on this one. Conversely the conservative/fundamentalist elements would be more likely to give a more liberal answer. Kind of funny.

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Cath Neville

April 06, 2008  6:36pm

Haha to David's comment! I love the way that people's comments are in line with their 'categories' - the 'moderates' are encouraging calm, the 'liberals' are open-minded and the 'conservatives' are offended at being categorized!! We are such funny creatures. I found this test so useful. I grew up as a 5th Generation Pentecostal PK, and I am now a lay leader within an "Empowered" Baptist church (we too avoid the 'label' of 'Charismatic'). Very different traditions, with very different ways of interpreting Scripture. I am sure that my answers five years ago would have differed vastly from my answers today. I loved Elizabeth's comment: "instead of wasting time condemning the author of the quiz for limiting labels, I'm going to examine the scripture, and my heart." May we all do likewise.

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David Mehrle

March 23, 2008  6:45am

Andrew - you are exactly right. This test is not about what everyone thinks of you or how you have been labeled. It is really more of a way to assess how you interpret scripture and to make you think about yourself. I see it already happening at the next leadership conference we will have to bring in counselors to help those of us who have been labeled get over our labels. Let's use the test as a measure and get back to interpreting scripture and letting God use us to touch the lives of people who are trying to walk with Jesus.

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William Mayor

March 21, 2008  5:58pm

This is an interesting quiz. I was not too surprised to test as a conserative, but I was surprised that my wife scored higher then I did. However, I imagine that many fellow conseratives would consider me to be very liberal anyway.

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Schalk v Heerden

March 06, 2008  9:33am

The Holy Spirit have been my guidance since I gave myself to the Lord through the guidence of Jesus who DIED for my terrible sins of the past and the future

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Kevin L Harris

March 05, 2008  4:17pm

I thought the test was a bit on the gray side. Some of the answers given were not completely one way or another to me. However I scored where I thought I would. I'm a conservative. I'm a pastor of a small nondenominational church and I was reading through some of the comments and I was surprised at the apparent lack of basic biblical understanding. Any approach to studying the Bible should be one that will allow you to work with in a frame work of consistency. The Bible can not mean today what it never meant before. We apply it today with an understanding of what it meant to the people it was directly written to within the context of the historical background and within the context of what is written. I guess that's what happens when you attend a seminary and study the Bible as God's word and not look at it as God's message hidden in the writings of some guys from a long time a go. I guess I could understand if I skipped school.

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February 29, 2008  5:30pm

The point is not to compare yourself with another. Nor is it to agree or disagree with a labeling, but instead...think. I've been a Christian for 15 years, but I've never stopped to consider some of these do I interpret the Bible on capital punishment and whether or not I should be allowed to braid my hair? Can I say that the death penalty is wrong, but it's okay for me to braid my hair and where gold? where is that line drawn? And am I inserting too much bias when I say the Sabbath isn't about Saturday or Sunday, but physical and spiritual recuperation from the previous week's trials (usually leading to doing homework on Sunday) I don't know what's right and what's not. But I don't believe that's the point, I realize now that these are questions I need to answer, so instead of wasting time condemning the author of the quiz for limiting labels, I'm going to examine the scripture, and my heart.

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Ken Bergstrom

February 28, 2008  11:16pm

My score of 52 really didn't mean much to me because as others noted, there really was no "spot" for their view in some of the questions. I struggle with the destruction of the villages, but more how G_d could ask Abraham to kill his son on an alter when murder was wrong even during that time. Then we get to the New Testament and G_d allows His Son to be killed in the most qrotesque way. The point being if His Son was not willing to give His life, we (the human race) would all perish forever. The fate of the entire human race hangs in the balance of one Man's (human) choice to do or not to do the Father's will. Are you not glad He chose to do the Father's will!!! Life can be bloody and gory, but when the storm is over, how wonderful is the peace and quietness and how exciting is the prospect of Eternity with Him.

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