Robert Thomas discusses and documents the following current evangelicals who have abandoned the classic interpretation principle of the single meaning of Scripture advocated by men like Milton S. Terry and Bernard Ramm: Clark Pinnock, Greg Beale, Grant Osborne, William Klein, Craig Blomberg, Robert Hubbard, Gordon Fee, James DeYoung, Sarah Hurty, Dan McCartney, Charles Clayton, Kenneth Gentry, Darrell Bock, Graig Blaising, and C. Marvin Pate (Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, pages141-154). Grant Osborne ‘s interpretation of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 will illustrate the consequence of interpreting a text with multiple meanings. Osborne sees the two witnesses as individuals and also the future church. “Yet the rapture of these two witnesses pictures only the church, he says. One would ask, What happened to the two individuals?” (Robert, page 146).
Robert Thomas gives history’s first example of the grammatical-historical interpretation and the first person who rejected the single meaning principle. God commanded Adam in Genesis 2:16b-17 saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Apparently Adam clearly understood what God said and meant and communicated that grammatical-historical interpretation to Eve. That certainly is the case because when the serpent tempted Eve, she repeated the single meaning of God’s statement to the serpent: “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Thomas comments on this dialogue: “Eve’s hermeneutics were in great shape, as was God’s communicative effectiveness. She worded her repetition of God’s command slightly different from God’s recorded message to Adam, but God probably repeated His original command to Adam in several different ways. Genesis has not preserved a record of every word he spoke to Adam.”
The serpent, however, abandoning the single meaning of Scripture, said to Eve, “You shall not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The serpent informed Eve that she had missed the deeper meaning or the sensus plenior of God’s Word. The predecessor of all who reject the single meaning of Scripture is quite infamous. My next post will discuss what is the sensus plenior meaning of Scripture.