Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Treating the Bible as THE Authority

I know it has only a been a few hours since my first post, but I feel the necessity to take a few minutes to explain a little bit more about my blog site. I want to explain why I use the phrase "exegetical student" for my web address, and "Context is King" for the title of the blog site.

The main reason I picked the address and title that i did was because of my great passion for the Bible. Well, not just my great passion for the Bible, but, more specifically, my great passion for treating the Bible correctly. Treating it as the inerrant, infallible, authoritative word of God.

Many today proclaim the Bible to be the word of God. Many today even claim that to disbelieve or disobey the Bible is equal to disbelieving or disobeying God Himself (Grudem). I would agree with them on this. I love to hear the people of God say such things, BUT it always grieves me when the same people who make such great assertions about the Bible then turn around and thoughtlessly use it.

I do not want to discourage people from quoting the Bible, but I do want to discourage people from quoting it carelessly. The fact that the Bible is the inerrant, authoritative word of God should not just lead Christians to conclude that it should be read and obeyed, it should also lead them to a healthy fear as to how they use it.

It is not enough to simply memorize the Bible. The printed words on the page hold no sacred power in and of themselves. Printed words when strung together make printed sentences. A string of printed sentences make printed paragraphs. A string of printed paragraphs make printed books. The individual words in the Bible are only useful and helpful in so far as they are seen within the context in which they exist. Therefore, the words of the Bible themselves are not powerful by themselves. Where then is the power and effect of the Bible if not in the words? The power and effect of the Bible is found in the ideas that are made up by the individual words. In other words, the usefulness and effectiveness of the Bible is found in the ideas that come from the individual words when they are seen and understood within their context.

The word "exegetical" simply means the art of interpretation. If we are going to view the Bible as the authoritative word of God, we must learn how to read it correctly. We must learn how to do correct exegesis (interpretation) so that we do not twist what God is saying, and thus misuse and misapply it.

The title of the blog (Context is King) is one of the most important aspects of correct exegesis (interpretation). I see that one of the greatest problems with the way most Christian's interpret the Bible is how their presuppositions (preconceived ideas) inform their interpretation more than does the context. When people interpret a certain verse in the Bible without examining the context in which that verse was put, they are not using it correctly. The Bible is full of abstract words (words like love, faith, hope, believe etc) that can mean almost anything if not seen within their context. Almost anyone in the world would say that "love" is the most important thing. The funny thing is that almost everyone has a different definition of what love is. What does the Bible mean when it commands you to love the brethren? You had better not force your understanding of what love is upon that command. How then can you know what it means to love the brethren? You will need to look at the context. In some verses love simply means "affection," in others it means love expressed in good deeds, in others it may mean telling someone the truth even though it hurts them. Only context can help you come to any sort of helpful definition when reading the Bible.

I so badly want to see the people of God treat the Bible correctly. I want to see a passion not just for the Bible, but for using the Bible correctly.

This really is the purpose of this blog. Most of what I say will be to this end. God has given me a passion for His Word. He has given me a reverence for it, and a desire to use it correctly. I pray that the passion He has given me would spill off onto others.


PJ Tibayan said...

Is hermeneutics different from exegesis, or in your mind are they synonymous?

By the way, praise God for a baby! Congratulations. God is good to us in Christ Jesus.

Jimmy Snowden said...

Exegesis has to do with the art of interpretation (I am exegeting the text--I am doing exegesis), while hermeneutics is the study of interpretation (I am learning the correct hermeutical approach to this certain text.) While you can exegete a text you cannot heremeneutic a text. Make sense?