Hermeneutic methodology is a method of properly approaching, interpreting, and applying Scriptures. Last week we talked about two principles of hermeneutics: 1. The Bible as a Progressive Revelation and 2. Context is King.
Three More Principles of Careful Hermeneutics:
1. The Analogy of Scripture
The best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible. Scripture interprets Scripture. The clearer passages of Scripture are the lens through which you look at the more difficult passages. You read a hard passage and you remember another passage that speaks about the same thing. Use the clearer passage and lay it alongside the more difficult passage to help you understand the more difficult passage.
2. The Analogy of Faith
Using the general understanding of the Bible’s theology as a whole, the Bible doctrines helps us interpret individual and difficult passages. Hebrews 10 and Romans 3 help us understand the big picture of the atonement. We fashion a lens from the reading of the whole Bible. This is such a help when we look at a difficult passage which also speaks of the atonement. We look to the entirety of Scripture.
We can also look to church history for help in properly understanding Scripture. What is the totality of Christian orthodox faith on this passage? Look at the confessions: the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 1689 Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, and others for helpful guidance in interpreting Scripture.
So take care to always be adjusting, clarifying, and correcting your big picture of the doctrines of the Bible so it is a helpful tool and not a hindrance.
3. The Scope of Scripture
What is the Bible really about? Am I interpreting this text in light of all of these tools--the progressive revelation, the context, the analogy of Scripture, etc.? What is the Bible really talking about as a whole? What is the meta-narrative, the big story?
The focus of the whole of Scripture is: Who is God? What is He like? How is He revealed? God reveals Himself through the face of His Son Jesus Christ.
Do not divorce the truths of Scripture from the big story of Scripture. Don’t ask the wrong question of the text. Don’t ask about election when the passage is not talking about election.
Look at the book of Job. It mentions some strange creatures that are so powerful man can’t tame them. And those who use these passages to prove that dinosaurs were around at the same time man was on the earth may be right, but they are not using the passage the way it was meant to be used. They are asking the passage questions it doesn’t answer. Did God have Job write that passage to prove the existence of dinosaurs or to prove the bigness of God and the smallness of mankind? It’s not that we can’t point out this animal. It’s not that there aren’t secondary applications. But don’t miss the primary application for the secondary one.
Applications of Principles
What are some fundamental implications of these principles? Let your study of the Bible drive you talk to others about the gospel - not the other way around. Use the right tools, depend upon the Spirit to guide you, humble yourself, and let the anticipation of the treasure that’s in this Book draw you through those difficult times. Don’t pay lip service to the inerrancy of Scripture and then let it sit and gather dust on your shelf.
Do you work hard to read your Bible every day but neglect the tools to interpret it and only glean a surface-level devotional thought for the day? Don’t be careless stewards of such a treasure.
Next week, we’ll talk about types and antitypes.
In this week's Supporter Episode, John and Teddy discuss the benefits of hymnals, how to choose a hymnal, and how to use one in your personal devotions.