Rogers, “Congregational Hermeneutics”

Rogers, Andrew P.  2013.  Congregational Hermeneutics: A Tale of Two Churches.  Journal of Contemporary Religion 28(3): 489-506.

Abstract: The “AHRC Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in Britain” (EFB) project ran over two years, from 2008 to 2009. The network addressed the question “To what extent have Evangelicals in Britain been Fundamentalist?”. This article develops one of the project papers. Drawing on my doctoral research, I explore the relationship between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism through an ethnographic perspective on how two contrasting evangelical congregations did biblical hermeneutics. The congregational hermeneutics approach addresses the mix of hermeneutical discourses, practices, and artefacts within the churches and I show that congregational hermeneutics are revealing for questions of evangelical identity. I maintain that the language of ‘fundamentalising tendencies’ is to be preferred to more static conceptions, which are not well suited for describing dissonant tendencies within congregations. The study supports the view that fundamentalising tendencies are not identical with Evangelicalism and shows that implicit hermeneutical traditions can be found in such churches with the potential to shape broader congregational traditions.