Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
05/13/2005 - James WhiteThe issue here is not, "Is there more to the Scriptures than mere human words?" All Christians gladly confess this. Surely there is a spiritual, living dimension to the Word. We truly must separate the method of determining the intended meaning of the author from other issues such as, Is the meaning of the author in his own time and own context the only possible meaning that is legitimate or Does it not take a work of the Spirit in the heart to cause a person to understand and obey the Word out of love for God? These are later issues, for they assume that we can first determine a basis upon which to answer such questions, and that basis is the intended teaching of the Scriptures themselves.
Since many believers are introduced to the study of the Scriptures higher up the ladder so to speak, the more basic issues of the howof interpretation are often left unspoken and assumed. Most churches do not seek to introduce their members to hermeneutics or exegesis or such related fields of study, resultingin a basic ignorance of the issues faced in interpreting the text of Scripture itself. At times, the method of exegesis popular in a particular group is a given, part of the very traditionof that group, and is never discussed or examined for consistency. Indeed, some groups identify the entire pursuit of a consistent hermeneutic as an attack upon the faithfor no other reason than that the core beliefs that set them apart are not the result of sound exegesis but of special pleading.
The grammatical-historical method of interpretation is a means of guaranteeing that we are hearing what the text says, not what we wantthe text to say. This is a vitally important point, especially when it comes to the Scriptures. When reading secular texts we are not nearly as tempted to insert a foreign meaning into the words of the author, since it is rare that such a text would be given sufficient importance to warrant the effort. We naturallyapply sound rules of interpretation to such documents since we are not at all threatened by the results. But when it comes to the text of the Bible, much more is at stake. But if we are consistent in our beliefs, and trulywant to hear what the Scriptures are saying and not what we want them to say or feel they should say, we need to have a means of reading the text that does not allow us to slipour own thoughts into the text under the guise of interpretation. The Bible needs to say the same thing in each language, in each culture, in each context, or it cannot be the means of communicating the truth to us that Christians believe it to be. The grammatical-historical method allows us to be both honest and consistent with the text of the Bible.
--Dangerous Airwaves, pp. 50-51.