Monday, January 18, 2016

Church, Bible, and Interpretation - It's Not So Simple


If interpreting the Bible correctly was a simple process, then the church would likely have far fewer arguments.

Let me be clear: the problem is not with the scriptures. Rather, the problem lies with Christians not using basic principles of interpretation that make understanding clear. Far too many believers treat the Bible as if it is some sort of exotic book that must be read and understood differently from other books. When they do this they come to all sorts of ridiculous conclusions about what the Bible means.

I have no time or interest in people who reject portions of scripture because they simply do not like them/do not want to obey them. I equally have no time for folks who obviously interpret the Bible in ways that make no sense (these people have usually already decided what the text should mean before they actually analyze it). The people I do have time for are Christians who want to understand the Bible but for some reason struggle to do so. Many times their failures stem from either poor teaching or lack of teaching in the past.

The sad fact is that many, many followers of Jesus Christ have come to many, many faulty conclusions about what the scriptures mean on many, many topics. Largely because of this I'm going to be posting a ten part series on Biblical interpretation. I do not intend for the upcoming pieces to be either highly academic or unnecessarily lengthy. Rather, I'll simply be discussing basic techniques for understanding what we need to understand from the Bible.

I am chagrined at the state of the church in this country. However, I also believe it has great potential. One way for the church to be much holier and have greater impact on society is if we have a better comprehension of what God means through the scriptures. My hope is that this upcoming blog series will help a little with that.

The series topics are as follows:

1. The Bible is a book that is meant to be understood.

2. The Biblical writers meant what they said.

3. The Biblical text has meaning; we do not bring our own meaning to it.

4. Biblical meaning stems from the book, chapter, and paragraph (not verse).

5. The Bible is full of eyewitness accounts.

6. The Bible does not read like a myth or fairy tale.

7. Genre must not be ignored.

8. Descriptive differs from prescriptive.

9. The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, but we can trust our good English translations.

10. The Gospel is the key, and Jesus Christ is at the center.

1 comment:

T Aagard said...

I would add. The Bible is a "living" book, so it requires a living relationship with the Holy Spirit who is the illuminator or teacher or discerner of it's meaning. Those who lack this relationship or are living in the flesh which is at war with the Spirit, will have severe handicaps and inabilities to understand it's meaning.

I do not trust our current translations on texts that deal with church leadership. These texts are severely warped by tradition driven translations rather than text driven translation. I am very thankful for the Blue Letter Bible App which lets me check with just a few taps what the real text says.