Questions about Bible Interpretation
I have been involved in a friendly, and hopefully fruitful, discussion over at Green Baggins regarding Bible interpretation. I have been encouraged to post here some of my comments there. Because I am excerpting from a conversation, I will have to do so in the form of questions and answers. The questions cited here may not always be actual ones from there, but attempt to sum up the path of the conversation.
First Question: Isn't the Bible itself insufficient for developing a method of Bible interpretation? Don't we need to engage in critical studies, to include significant input from outside the Bible?Answer: The Bible is sufficient for developing our hermeneutic. If we are to reason faithfully, we must, as Cornelius Van Til emphasized, beging our reasoning by believing the teaching of the Bible. This means that our exegetical method must be consistent with the self-attestation of Scripture. I realize that some will argue that this does not help, since there is disagreement over the Bible's teaching itself. But I reply that there are essential teachings of Scripture that are so unambiguous as to be reasonably uncontested, at least from within the canon. An example would be the divine authorship of the Bible. "God spoke through the prophets," (Heb. 1:1), etc. Now, as one who receives in faith the Bible's plain teaching because of the Spirit's testimony to it in my spirit, I must now employ a method that fully incorporates divine authorship, the unity of the Bible, and the analogy of faith (i.e., the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture). To this we need to add the perspicuity of Scripture, since I do indeed assert that the Bible speaks with clarity on essential matters of doctrine like the divine authorship of Scripture. In other words, my method of Bible interpretation must be founded upon what the Bible says about itself. This provides me with faith commitments (reasoning that flows from my believing acceptance of the Bible's teaching) that provide foundational principles for Bible interpretation.
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