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Shibboleths

6 March 2008

One of the things that the Web does is give you access to all kinds of shibboleths — quizzes and questions to see where you or others stand on various issues. And if you don’t have issues, you can Google for them.

I’ve just done a Hermeneutics quiz (Hat-tip to open source research: Hermeneutics Quiz) which tells me that I am a “Moderate” (hermeneutically, that is). Whatever that means.

The Hermeneutics Quiz
Score 64  
Evaluation You scored between 53 and 65, meaning you’re a moderate on The Hermeneutics Scale.To learn more about what this means, click here.And don’t miss these other essential resources regarding God’s Word and the church in the 21st century:

I clicked the link to find what it means, and this is what it said:

The moderate hermeneutic might be seen as the voice of reason and open-mindedness. Moderates generally score between 53 to 65. Many are conservative on some issues and progressive on others. It intrigues that conservatives tend to be progressive on the same issues, while progressives tend to be conservative on the same issues. Nonetheless, moderates have a flexible hermeneutic that gives them the freedom to pick and choose on which issues they will be progressive or conservative. For that reason, moderates are more open to the charge of inconsistency. What impresses me most about moderates are the struggles they endure to render judgments on hermeneutical issues.

Right, as Noah said to the Lord when he told him to build an ark.

Perhaps I should mention that “hermeneutics” is one of those words that causes my eyes to glaze over when I’m reading, and I skip to the next sentence. If it occurs twice in the same paragraph, I either close the book or reach for my dictionary. And if it occurs in conversation me ears glaze over, or whatever ears do that is the equivalent of eyes glazing over. I see that “hermeneutical” caused some spelling checker somewhere to glaze over too. I don’t know where it is, but it underlines words it doesn’t like when I’m writing blog posts, and hermeneutical is one that it doesn’t seem to like.

But the most mysterious shibboleth I have ever come across is the so-called “TMatt trio” (or is it the T-Matt trio?)

I wrote a blog post about it once: Left, right and the excluded middle, but neither then nor since have I been able to find out what it tells you.

I know what it is supposed to tell you — ask three questions and you can determine whether the person you are asking is on the left or right of the theological spectrum (whatever that means). There’s enough confusion about what “left” or “right” means in political terms without importing them into theology as well.

But the author of the trio never tells us which answers correspond to which end of the spectrum. And no commentator on my blog has been sufficiently knowledgeable to tell me.

“Say ‘Shibboleth'”.

“Glkrjgbrldkjhgh”

“Come again?”

“Glkrjgbrldkjhgh”

“Yer what?”

“Glkrjgbrldkjhgh”

“I asked you to say ‘Shibboleth’ — please say it”

“Glkrjgbrldkjhgh”

“Oh, forget it.”

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