Biblical Interpretation Part 3: The Bible IS the Word of God!
In part 1 of our series on biblical interpretation, I stated the goal of biblical interpretation is to study the text to discern the author’s intent, and to think responsibly about practical application of the text.
The biblical author communicated an intended meaning that he wanted his audience to understand. The reader must labor in the text with careful study, as he relies upon the Spirit to discern the author’s intent. Readers must then think carefully about how the author’s intent applies into the 21st century.
In part 2, I discussed interpretative biases. These biases can help or hinder readers when seeking to understand the author’s intent. But the reader can discover the author’s intent. I also suggested we can have our blind spots exposed if we read diverse ethnic voices.
In this piece, before I get into some specifics of some practical ways to study the bible, I want to answer the question why? Why should Christians from different tongues and tribes and peoples and nations give themselves to faithful bible study with the time, resources, and skills God has given to them? My answer is because the bible is the living, breathing, inspired, perfect, and authoritative word of God!
The Protestant Christian bible is God’s breathed out word he communicated to real people and whom, under the inspiration of the Spirit, God inspired and guided to write his word exactly as he desired. The bible requires careful study because it is God’s inspired, perfect, and authoritative word to us. And his word is sufficient for everything pertaining to eternal life and godliness.
We call this verbal plenary inspiration: all scripture from Genesis to Revelation is God-breathed. This results in a reliable, trustworthy, authoritative bible written by God-inspired men for God’s people.
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM 2000), the confessional statement of faith from my denomination (Southern Baptist), says this about the bible:
“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation” (Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
- You can trust the bible is sufficient for everything pertaining to eternal life and godliness.
- When you read the bible, realize God is speaking to you.
- When you read the bible, approach it with delight and with joy.
- When you read the bible, rely upon the Spirit.
- When you read the bible, listen, think, and reflect carefully about what it’s saying.
- When you read the bible, ask God to show you how to obey it and then obey.
2 thoughts on “Biblical Interpretation Part 3: The Bible IS the Word of God!”
Louis Markos at Alliance of Confessing evangelicals wants home school teachers to give Flannery O’Connor a pass on the “n” word.
“…In sharp contrast, O’Connor’s faith in the Incarnate and Risen Christ who died for our sins is as evident in her novels and stories as it is in her letters and essays. Why then do many Christian schools shy away from her? Part of it is her use of the “n” word, but that is not the whole story, since that forbidden word crops up in other authors.”
I once challenge The Elder body at Founders Baptist Church in Spring Texas to tell me the difference between the “n” and the “mf” word. In unison they told me that one was vulgar.
As I read scripture and “discover the author’s intent”, I find that these words are both unwholesome therefore both words are used in a foolish way and have no place in the church much less in the mouth of elders and certainly not in the books we teach our children.
I confronted these elders at Founders in their folly so they would not “seem wise in their own eyes”. It did not end well.
Do we really see the “n” word for the vulgarity that it is or did I miss “the author’s intent” ?
“But the reader can discover the author’s intent.”
Can we imagine that some “reader” had discovered the “author’s intent” but that almost the whole of white protestant Christianity had a “biases” for 400 years that causes the Bible to be twisted and preached even to this day into an intentional imposed suffering for certain groups of Christian’s brothers and sisters.
Can we imagine what would happen to this “reader” if he decided to stand for this discovery of “the author’s intent” among his white brothers and sisters as they continued to “suppress the truth” = “the author’s intent”.
Suppose that God had been patient with this evil behavior of the white protestant church toward those who had “discover the author’s intent” over those 400 years and his patient had finally run it’s course and now he was in the process of disciplining his church because they continue to ” Suppress the truth”. Might that look like what we have had in the last several decades?
Image with me that we are being more disciplined that persecuted.
Imagine with me that we suppress Romans Chapter one when it says we have “no excuse” in that we knew even before we were save that God made (not just white) man in his image.
Suppose that not even Johnathan Edwards can stand before God and say “I didn’t know”. Could we imagine that God told him (you have no excuse for buying, selling or owning someone made in my image, I showed you in creation before I told you in my word.)