Friday, May 4, 2012

Solid Hermeneutical Principles


      Solid  Hermeneutical Principles

Today, I'd like to share two thoughts on the nature of the Bible's authority; it is important not to miss these two extremely important principles in understanding how to interpret the Scriptures (hermeneutics).

There are two principles of hermeneutics that have to be understood by all believers who want to understand God’s word….1.) How God’s word fits into redemptive history, and 2.)  the difference between what is commanded in the Bible and what is simply described:  Let's examine principle one first.

 Principle One, the Bible's authority must be maintained within an adequate sense of the distinguishing features of the various epochs of redemptive history. For example, as a member of the new covenant community, I am not obligated by the prohibition against boiling a young goat in its mother's milk," ... (Ex. 23:19; cf. Mark 7:19; Rom. 14:14)

 "This prohibition belongs to a specific period of context of redemptive history."

I've witnessed many individual believers and churches err on this one basic principle of Biblical interpretation: We must understand and read the Bible in its context and where it fits in with the various times of redemptive history.

 Principle two, there must be a clear appreciation of the difference between the descriptive and the prescriptive texts in the Scriptures … here are several examples of this hermeneutical principle:

Remember how the early church in Jerusalem sold all their goods and relinquished their rights to private ownership (Acts 2:44-45), we are not obligated to follow their example, for the Bible was describing and not prescribing this action to be mandated for all churches for all times.

Now this one may wrinkle a few feathers, but the 1 Corinthians 16:2 passage that says:" On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once."

This also is a descriptive passage, but many churches use it as a prescriptive passage (a command) in order to collect tithes and offerings each and every Sunday. The context clearly refers to Paul's collection for the famine relief in Jerusalem, as the rest of the passage makes clear: so there will be no collections when I come (1Cor. 16:2), there is no specific command given here that  has import for all churches at every time and place.

There are of course many other Biblical rules that dictate how we are to read the Bible, but I think that these two standout among the other hermeneutical principles.

Continue to read God's word, seek out good commentaries, ask a lot of questions, use good solid Biblical hermeneutical principles and may God bless His Word to your life

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