Tag Archives: Bible

Check Yourself: Testing Your Theology

Everyone is a theologian. No one is a theological blank slate. Since theology is the study of God (the process—doing theology) and expressing those thoughts (the product—theology proper), even an atheist who says “there is no God” is making a theological statement. Christians have the duty of being healthy theologians (Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:2; John 4:23-24).

An earlier post pointed out that understanding your theology is an important aspect of interpreting the Bible. And as you interpret the Bible you inform your theology. So, what can we do to test our theology? Dr. David Mappes offers the following system for validating your theology[1].

“A model for theological method is necessary since the Scripture is progressively revealed and no one topic is fully addressed by any one author. Any valid theological model must be minimally measured by the following components:

Canonical: Is first priority and authority given to the canonical books of Scripture over personal experience, personal sensibilities, other writing, general revelation, speculation, etc.?[2]

Comprehensive: Is all biblical teaching on a topic examined with greater weight given to the clearest and most definitive passages, or are selective/vague passages used in a mere proof-texting manner?

Consistent hermeneutical approach: Is the … Keep Reading

Recommended Short Reads (8/17/2016)

Watch the Trailer for ‘The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film’  “Narrated by the author and featuring captivating animations adapted from the book, along with an original score by composer John Poon, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film will engage children as they are led on an exciting journey through the Bible in just 26 minutes—connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.”

How Can I Learn to Receive—and Give—Criticism in Light of the Cross? Justin Taylor helpfully outlines Alfred Poirier’s work.

When You’re Not a Typical Woman “In my conversations with ladies of many ages, I’ve noticed that we have varying understandings of the typical woman, but few of us think of ourselves as one. Start a conversation with a woman in your church, ask her all about herself, find out her life story, and usually you will hit a point where she will tell you that she doesn’t (or didn’t) feel like a typical woman.”

Is the Christian Faith Rational?  “When I say that Christianity is rational, I do not mean that the truth of Christianity in all of its majesty can be deduced … Keep Reading

The Six Steps of Bible Interpretation

The process of studying the Bible according to the author’s original intended meaning is often referred to simply as interpreting the Bible literally. Mike Stallard notes that the method for this type of literal interpretation is called the grammatical-historical method of Bible interpretation: “In modern times, evangelicals have spoken of literal interpretation as grammatical-historical interpretation to indicate that there exists both a grammatical-language context as well as a historical context which must be taken into account to read a passage.”[1]

This method is the best way to consistently discover the message that the author—God, ultimately—intended for us. You likely use aspects of this method automatically without realizing. Formalizing an approach to understanding the Bible will help you be a better student of the Bible.

For more about why the Bible should be interpreted though the grammatical-historical method, check out Does it Matter How I Read the Bible? and The Author Determines the Meaning: Now What Do I Do About It?

Bible Interpretation is More Science than Art

A word that is used to describe Bible interpretation is “hermeneutics.” That term—hermeneutics—“is from a Greek word, hermeneuo which means to interpret or to translate, to give the meaning. Keep Reading

Is it Possible to Understand the Bible with any Degree of Certainty?

In literary and academic circles, it is not uncommon to encounter the claim that one can never be certain about the proper interpretation of a written text. According to their thinking, since no understanding of a written text can be held with certainty, all interpretation should be held at a provisional level (temporary and likely to be changed later).

Human Behavior Proves that We Know Better

However, if all interpretation is truly only temporary and likely to be changed later, it would hardly be worth the effort to state or defend such a reality. If what I mean by using terms such as interpretation, knowledge, and provisional are unreliable to carry meaning when competently and consistently used, it would be an entirely insane endeavor to attempt to communicate their unreliability with words.

One might concede that language is capable of reliably conveying meaning, but still insist all knowledge is provisional as people are incapable of reliably understanding or interpreting what is communicated to them. That lands us in the same spot: if people are truly incapable of reliably interpreting and understanding meaning, there is no use in talking about it. By communicating, one acts upon the assumption Keep Reading

What We Believe: The Gospel

What one believes drives what they do—that is an unavoidable fact of life.  We may not even be aware of all the beliefs that we have, but behind each of our actions there is a motivating belief.  This post is part of a series featuring foundational truths that Christians believe so that we can have those truths in the driver seat of our lives.  To that end, this resource features sections describing What We Believe—each with a corresponding description of What We Do. The topic for this issue is the gospel and it is available as a free digital booklet (PDF).… Keep Reading

The Author Determines the Meaning: Now, What Do I Do About It?

The previous post describes why we should not just read the Bible for how it makes us feel or “what it says to me.” If that is true, how should I read the Bible, what do I do about it?

Commit to an Author-Determined Approach to Meaning

We do not read the Bible to see a reflection of ourselves in the text; we read the Bible as a window through which we discover God’s truth about the universe, ourselves, and Him. “[When reading the Bible] the goal is to arrive at the creative intention of the original author contained in the words of the text…the meaning of the text is what the author consciously intended to say by his text. Thus, the meaning of Romans is what Paul intended to communicate to his readers in Rome when he wrote his letter.”[1]

Who is the Author of the Bible?  God is the ultimate author; and He appointed human authors.

God inspired a variety of human authors over a period of approximately 1500 years who wrote as thinking, feeling human beings to convey His message. God superintended over the process so that as the human author expressed God’s inspiration in their Keep Reading

Does it Matter ‘How’ I Read the Bible?

I think it safe to assume that we are in agreement: we want to read the Bible, understand it correctly, live it out, and teach others to do the same. You are reading a Bible interpretation guide, after all. 

However, when discussing the topic of how one should read, study, and interpret the Bible, a question commonly comes up: “What’s all the fuss? Can’t I just read the Bible and be happy with what it says to me or how it makes me feel?” I understand the sentiment, but there are a few reasons that we can’t be satisfied with that approach to reading the Bible.

Reason #1: I Don’t Get to Determine What the Bible Means; Meaning is Determined by the Author

Who or what determines the meaning of a text? The author, the text itself, or the reader? The author is the one who has constructed an intelligent thought (who has constructed the meaning) and conveyed it through inanimate objects (paper, ink, or pixels on a digital display) in order to communicate meaning to an audience. Meaning is created and determined by the author. In the case of the Bible, God has inspired multiple authors over a Keep Reading

What We Believe: The Bible

What one believes drives what they do—that is an unavoidable fact of life.  We may not even be aware of all the beliefs that we have, but behind each of our actions there is a motivating belief.  This post is part of a series featuring foundational truths that Christians believe so that we can have those truths in the driver seat of our lives.  To that end, this post will have sections describing What We Believe—each with a corresponding description of What We Do. This is also available as a free digital booklet (PDF).… Keep Reading

The Bible: A Book of Books by One Divine Author

“The Bible is a diverse collection of different writings.  It contains sixty-six books written by about forty human authors over nearly 2,000 years.  It has two main sections (Old Testament and New Testament) written in two main languages (Hebrew and Greek, respectively), and includes a mixture of types of literature.  Although the Bible contains a great variety of material, written by many human authors over a long period of time, it holds together as a unity.  Fundamentally, it is just one book written by one author with one main subject.  …  Christians should have no qualms about accepting that the Bible was written by people.  Its books were written by a variety of authors at different times in history and bear the marks of the personalities and eras that produced them.  But God ensured by his Spirit that everything they wrote was exactly what he wanted them to write. … It is God’s Word: he is the ultimate author. The Bible obviously covers a great deal of ground.  But there is one supreme subject that binds it all together: Jesus Christ and the salvation God offers through him.  That is true not just of the New Testament but of the … Keep Reading

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