“I think there is some value in this analogy of comparing hermeneutical frameworks to maps. The given reality is the whole text of the Bible itself. No framework can give account of every detail, just as no map can represent every tiny feature of a landscape. But like a map, a hermeneutical framework can provide a way of seeing the whole terrain, a way of navigating one’s way through it, a way of observing what is most significant, a way of approaching the task of actually encountering the realit itself (just as a map tells you what to expect when you are actually in the terrain it portrays).” Christopher Wright, The Mission of God

Every theological system has its limitations, in as much as there is always going to be a decision on the part of those creating it in regards to inclusion and exclusion of the biblical text, arrangement of its message, identification of its emphasis, and application of its greater concerns to life. The same is true for any hermeneutical framework whether it be literary, historical, or practical. But this ought not to discourage us, rather it ought to propel us outward into the wider body Christ. I’m often surprised by how much insight, imagination, and artistic vantage point I gain toward the scriptures, the Christian life, and the world from those whom I’ve have considerable differences with.

Hermeneutical frameworks or maps do these things for us as traveling readers:

  1. They provide you and I with a way to see the whole terrain.
  2. Giving us the ability to navigate our way through it.
  3. Availing us of the opportunity to appreciate the sites which are most siginificant.
  4. Perhaps most of all they offer us a way of approaching the task of actually encountering the reality itself, whether that be God himself, His mission, His community, or His revelation.

Everytime you and I find ourselves in unfamiliar waters or on deppreciated roads these maps offer us a way to re-route and find our way back into the particular narrative we’re in. I find that I learn as much about the writers, their concerns, and their goals as I do about my differences or agreements. Its part of appreciating the literary labors of the ‘other’. Perhaps the best thing we can do if you or I find ourselves within a particular tradition is to take up the maps of ‘others’, go on a journey with them, appreciate their landmarks of choice, their destination, and only afterwards consider our own gps planned adventure. In this way we begin to practice a ‘mere’ catholicity – ie acknowledging the wider body of Christ through enjoying, using, and genuinely growing from their labors while retaining those ‘plots’ which make our own commute a life long one.