After hearing a detailed explanation of the 15 steps necessary for studying the Bible, a student noticed that the professor hadn’t said anything about the role of the Holy Spirit. Somewhat confused given that most Christians affirm the doctrine of illumination–the idea the the Spirit is somehow at work with Christians enabling them to hear and understand God’s Word properly–the student asked, “Where is the Holy Spirit in all this?”
His response: “Everywhere.”
Was that a profound insight into the fact that reading the Bible properly is a necessarily Spirit-infused task, or was that just pietistic jargon designed to cover up the fact that the professor really doesn’t believe the Spirit has anything to do with exegesis?
That’s the question Kevin Vanhoozer used to introduce a fascinating paper on the role of the Spirit in hermeneutics at the recent Wheaton Theology Conference. And his real target was on developing greater clarity about what it means to say that the Spirit “illumines” us when we read the Bible. Does it really make a difference? If so, in what way?