John Ortberg Takes the Quiz
Can the hermeneutics quiz really determine your view of the Bible?

As expected, the blog has been abuzz with people's opinions about Scot McKnight's hermeneutical quiz in the new issue of Leadership. Some of the heat is coming from the assumption - primarily by those who have not seen the quiz - that it is a scientific instrument of high precision and accuracy. That was not McKnight's intention when he created the tool. He writes in the introduction:

This quiz is designed to surface the decisions we make, perhaps without thinking about them, and about how we both read our Bible and don't read our Bible. Some will want to quibble with distinctions or agree with more than one answer. No test like this can reveal all the nuances needed, but broad answers are enough to raise the key issues.

Earlier we posted the scores and responses from three Leadership contributors. Today we have another. John Ortberg has taken the Hermeneutics Quiz and scored 68 - on the borderline between Moderate and Progressive. His comments about the quiz are below.

I was struck by how often the statements that were placed on different places on the continuum actually seemed compatible or even mutually dependent to me. For instance, "The Bible is God's message for all time" and "The Bible is God's words and message for that time but need interpretation and contextualization to be lived today." These are BOTH statements that I would fully endorse; and its precisely the truth that the Bible is God's message for all time that makes it cry out for careful interpretation.

Also it occurred to me going through the statements that there is a difference between 'conservatism' and 'orthodoxy,' although in evangelical circles we often equate the two. For instance, since classical liberalism is associated with a denial of the divinity of Jesus, 'conservatism' tends to be associated with an emphasis on his divinity, even at the expense of his humanity. So docetic teachings about Jesus may be 'conservative' in that sense, but are clearly not 'orthodox.'

All of which is to say that the 'conservative-moderate-progressive' continuum is an interesting one. We tend to want to put people into a box and label them with these words, but I wonder what other kinds of frameworks might be developed to help us examine our approach and faithfulness to the text.

It also struck me how difficult it is to measure the kind of belief that really matters. Take Jesus' teaching, "It is better to give than to receive..." The hard question is - am I actually the living what I 'really' believe?

If you haven't already taken "The Hermeneutics Quiz," you can find it here.

January 24, 2008

Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments


March 03, 2008  3:19pm

What? This isn't cosmo! I want my money back.

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Andrew Sillis

February 28, 2008  11:02pm

I found this test an interesting diversion. Just so you know I got a progressive, 66, which I thought reflected me well. The only thing that I wondered about was the 'Death Penalty' questions. I was quite happy to select the 'Death Penalty' and appear 'conservative'; but then I would have also selected 'but you can't carry it out' because of John 8:7. I took the 'death penalty' questions as something of a US concern though. We stopped worrying about it in the UK some time ago:-) Missing out bits of the Bible is a big mistake, but even the most conservative will do so.

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Gary Sweeten

February 09, 2008  7:14pm

Maybe the purpose was to get us to think about these issues and not to get a "correct" score. Mr. Ortberg's questions are right on and very good ways to force some deeper thoughts about issues.

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January 28, 2008  7:51am

John, as usual, raises some thoughtful points. I've often wondered why "conservatives" are identified with "loving God with all your heart and soul" while "progressives" are identified with the "love your neighbor" emphasis. Obviously to follow Jesus, you have to do both. Conservatives tend to say "truth trumps love," or, as it's usually seen,"I'm willing to separate from a relationship if that person refuses to accept true doctrine." Whereas progressives tend to say, "Love trumps truth," or in other words, "Showing God's love to people is more important than getting them to accept true doctrines." Of course, Jesus transcends this human spectrum. Truth and love are both necessary parts of following Jesus. He transcends even our hermeneutical spectrums.

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Chris Ridgeway

January 27, 2008  11:52pm

I think my reaction to Scot's quiz is similar to Ortberg's thoughts. Questions to point out inconsistencies? Good deal. But I struggle with the resulting categories of "conservative" or "liberal/progressive" as useful in theological context. (I identify with them about as much as I do when they are used politically - not at all). I don't deny categories can be helpful in communication, but as a 20-something-emerging-ish ministry guy, I feel like I need a new one (typical, huh?). :)

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