Saturday, October 10, 2009

How to interpret the Bible

That title seems pompous doesn't it? There are so many ways to interpret the Bible, and so many differing opinions, etc.

But I was reading of one in particular that really hit me. It is technically the PCUSA's guidelines for interpreting the Bible in times of crisis. However, I think that proper Biblical interpretation is important enough that misinterpretation has a very real potential of causing a crisis.

The steps in this method have their background in a large variety of Christian creeds and of course the Bible. These are not just ideas that someone came up with and thought they'd be a great idea.

I may expand on each of these individually later, but that would make for one really long blog post. So I'll just list them.

Here goes:
  1. Recognize that Jesus Christ, the redeemer, is the center of Scripture. The redemptive activity of God is central to the entire Scripture. The Old Testament themes of the covenant and the messiah, testify to this activity. In the center of the New Testament is Jesus Christ: the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of Israel's messianic hope, and the promise of the Kingdom. It is to Christ that the church witnesses. When interpreting Scripture, keeping Christ in the center aids in evaluating the significance of the problems and controversies that always persist in the vigorous, historical life of the church.
  2. Let the focus be on the plain text of Scripture, to the grammatical and historical context, rather than to allegory or subjective fantasy.
  3. Depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying God's message.
  4. Be guided by the doctrinal consensus of the church, which is the rule of faith.
  5. Let all interpretations be in accord with the rule of love, the two-fold commandment to love God and to love our neighbor.
  6. Remember that interpretation of the Bible requires earnest study in order to establish the best text and to interpret the influence of the historical and cultural context in which the divine message has come.
  7. Seek to interpret a particular passage in the Bible in light of all the Bible.
Some of these need a bit more commentary than others. But again, that would make for a wicked long post.

Anyone else see that at a first glance to be a pretty solid set of guidelines to follow?

Anything confusing? Or that you just plain disagree with?

Does anyone rigorously follow any particular or alternate set of guidelines for interpreting the Bible?