I accidentally deleted this entry a few days ago, but here it is again: a response from Roger to an earlier post on biblical literalism…
How about this – the Bible is infallible and true in everything about which it talks. Yet, we still have to interpret it. We need to develop sound hermeneutical principles with which to interpret the Bible. One thing I try to keep in mind when I’m reading the Bible is to try to discern the author’s intent. This means studying the historical context of the writings itself (involves understanding the culture of the author, the audience to which the author is writing, as well as the culturally formed genre in which the author is writing), as well as the grammatical context (where the word fits within the sentence; where the sentence within the paragraph; where the paragraph within the letter/narrative/poem, etc.). Each book of the Bible has to be approaches somewhat differently, depending on (for instance) the genre being used. I read Paul’s letters much differently than, say, Psalm 1 or Lamentations. Paul’s letters usually require understanding what was going on within the churches to whom he is writing.
These are just basic hermeneutical principles, but necessary nonetheless. And I think they allow us to gain fairly certain assurance of what the authors of the books in the Bible were trying to say at certain points. Hence, Solomon when he says things like, “Everything is meaningless” may not necessarily be written to persuade the reader to adopt that same stance. For instance, what do we do when the Pharisees say certain things? Do we jump to the conclusion that when the Pharisees reject Christ, that because the Bible is written by God, that God wants us to reject Christ? You see where I’m going. The question we ask is what is the author trying to communicate to us. Certain genres will force us to adopt a different mode of interpretation to answer that question (narrative as opposed to epistle as opposed to poetry).
The last hermeneutical principle, though, is found in the book of Luke when the resurrected Messiah is talking with the two disciples on a road. He tells them that the Law and the prophets all spoke of Him, and Christ then commenced to unfold the meaning of the Scriptures to the two men – the meaning being Christ Himself. This last hermeneutical principle, I think, can’t be forgotten. The primary message the authors are trying to communicate has to do with Christ. Usually about His redemption, usually typological in some way.
That last paragraph is something I take so much for granted I often forget the concept in my readings of the Old Testament: the Law and the Prophets unequivocably point to Jesus as Lord and Savior!
But then, go to PEX and try telling this guy that.