His House

A Word About Biblical Interpretation

A scientist can understand and at times explain to the rest of us the inner workings of the human body and how the molecular structure of certain foods effects the cells or even the individual parts of the cells of the human body. Some of that information may or may not be valuable to my wife, whom I consider to be a world class chef, especially as one who prepares delicious and equally healthy meals for her family. She uses organic ingredients, whole grains, and avoids unhealthy ingredients such as simple sugars, hydrogenated oils, and nitrates (I would imagine that all of these harmful ingredients are a result of scientific work, just as is the knowledge of their detrimental effects on the human body). In short, the scientist probably has enough time in his life to pursue his passion: science, not the culinary arts. Likewise, my wife only has enough time to pursue her passion, which is not science, but caring for her family and friends through her God given abilities. She may at times benefit from scientific thought, but she doesnít need it to feed her family.

The same can be said, I believe, of theology. While the theologian can dissect and catalog the scripture to a degree that parallels the work of the scientist, such a passion leaves little time for pursuing my passion, which is searching for and feasting upon the Bread From Heaven. I am more interested in, and therefore spend my time with, the practical experiential relationship with the God of the scriptures, rather than with the theoretical postulating of biblical ideas and concepts. I would like to know what the scholar knows, but not at the expense of knowing Him who I know, and there simply is not time for both. Like my wife Tanya, I would rather break bread than examine wheat germ under a microscope.

I donít necessarily discredit the work of the theologian, but I only see his work as valuable to me in so far as it, at times, helps me to understand more fully or define more clearly my life work and passion, and in that case, Iím grateful for the information.

For a time, my only instruction in biblical exegesis (interpretation) and hermeneutics (application) came directly from the Holy Spirit as He showed me first by example, through the teaching and preaching of spiritual men, and then directly, as He led me scripture by scripture and revealed to me many of His ways during an intense time of revelation. Through this experience, I developed what I believe to be a godly means for exegesis and hermeneutics. I think it is consistent with the way spiritual men and women have interpreted and applied the scripture throughout history. However, eventually, I began to look into the subject from a more scientific perspective, at least by reading the works of experts in the subject of inductive Bible study, though not attempting to become such an expert myself.

I took from their work some valuable reference tools, but did not embrace their overall methodology, not because I felt it was wrong, but because Iíd become convinced of a better way. While I love and appreciate the reference tools developed by the experts, Iíve only occasionally found their commentary on the scripture to be of spiritual value, and often Iíve even found them wrong in their interpretations of scripture. Why? Because, while they may be experts in exegesis, the Holy Scripture is one work that requires, above all else, the illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to truly understand its meaning. Proper techniques simply are not sufficient. "For we know that the law is spiritual..." (Rom. 7:14). "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:5-8). "These things we also speak, not in words which manís wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:13-14).

From the little Iíve studied of biblical interpretation, I know enough to know that at least some of the experts would not approve of my methods or methodology. However, I trust the Holy Spiritís work in me and in others who, like me, have found Him who is the Bread From Heaven, and the Living Word.

For me personally, reference works are indispensable tools for biblical interpretation, including references that help me with the original language, as well as the original culture in which and to which the work was authored. However, as indispensable as I believe these tools are to Bible study, they simply cannot take the place of relational knowledge. They can only aid us in coming to the truth in so far as we come to Him who is The Truth. I would rather experience more of God than I can understand than to understand more than Iíve experienced. The theologian that knows God only in theory can author the most wonderful cookbooks that entice the reader with mouth watering photos of delicious meals, but alas, are unable to provide the meal for which their readers will eventually hunger. Those who know the Bible, but do not know God, can only express religious ideas, but, unfortunately, are unable to break bread to hungry souls.


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