I teach history and serve as chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.
Why “The Hermeneutic Circle?”
The short answer: I approach learning as a circular process rather than linear. This name simply signals the way my mind works – I am someone who processes things, suspends judgement, and lives with a lot of tension. A Hermeneutic Circle is a representation of how one approaches the world of ideas. (Hermeneutics is the art of interpreting sources.)
The longer answer: Although I am a historian, I am also concerned with larger questions about faith, certainty, and current events. Sometimes we approach learning as a linear process – knowledge is “downloaded” from some source we consider to be an authority. But viewing learning as a circular process offers a better approach that takes into account our starting assumptions, encourages analysis of various sources, and allows for adjustment that can flex over time. To be a “life-long learner” is not simply to accumulate knowledge, but ideally, to move closer to the truth. (Though I don’t have a hierarchical approach to sources, my evangelical friends will want to know that on matters of faith, I do privilege the Bible – with the full knowledge that biblical hermeneutics is itself an imperfect process.)