Hermeneutics: The Ten Commandments of Scriptural Interpretation

Great article from Out of Ur, associated with Christianity Today. Here are the first four. Click on the link for the rest —

I. You shall not make for yourself an idol out of Scripture.

This is a particular temptation among evangelicals who hold a very high view of Scripture. We forget that our highest calling is not to have a relationship with the Bible but with Jesus Christ about whom the Bible testifies. (John 5:39)

II. You shall honor the Scriptures as sufficient.

We have a common temptation to get “behind the text” or discover what “really happened.” While archeology and other disciplines are incredibly important, we must not forget that what God has given in the Scriptures is enough for life and faith.

III. You shall remember the metanarrative and keep it wholly.

In my experience more Christians can recap the meta-narrative of the Star Wars saga than can recap the biblical meta-narrative. It’s not enough to know the stories and events in the Bible. We must know how they fit together to tell a single story.

IV. You shall honor the Church as the recipient and the guardian of the Scriptures.

The books and letters in the Bible, with a few exceptions, were not written to individuals but to communities of believers. We must be careful not to read everything through the lenses of Western individualism. And we are wise to listen to how Christians in ages past have understood the teachings of Scripture.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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4 Responses to Hermeneutics: The Ten Commandments of Scriptural Interpretation

  1. guy says:

    Jay,

    Aren't II and IV in tension? And isn't IV a concession to the position you've been arguing against in recent weeks?

    –guy

  2. aBasnar says:

    There is a difference

    II) is about "enough" for life and faith.
    IV) is about a more complete understanding ofthe faith

    While I say, the Scritptures contain everything you ought to know in order to be saved and to live a fruitful spiritual life – and all in plain language! – I'd add, that there is far more to the story than individual salvation. The whole chounsel of God contains things, that we would consider to be minors or less relevant. There are things in God's counsel that – although notr fellowship issues – still have a tremedous value for Him.

    Just one example: The way we view the Millenium may differ, but God has a definite plan. And here (IV) is important: We can (for instance) ask those who were companions of John how they understood the book of Revelation. After all, they were in the position to ask John how he himself understood what has been revealed to him.

    In fact, all matters of church life are to be understood this way. These are not questions about individual salvation (II), but concern important truths.

    Alexander

  3. The author of the article quoted addresses that in the comments there. In short, with item 2, he was thinking of extended debates and study of questions such as "Did the Israelites cross the Red Sea or the reed sea?" — things that have little to no bearing on the applications and message of the text.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Jay:

    Excellent brother!

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