Let God Speak: His Word is Authority - READ MORE
Released March 2015. 200 pages.
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If we accept that the Bible is inspired and therefore infallible, inerrant, and authoritative, how are we to interpret the Bible so that we let God speak with authority?
We need to consciously set up rules of interpretation for the bible. This is the study of HERMENEUTICS. Hermeneutics is a general principle that applies to all subjects which require interpretation - whether art, literature, scientific criteria, legal documents, translation, computers, etc.
That theological discipline which takes as its goal the proper interpretation of Scripture is (biblical) hermeneutics. A solid hermeneutics is the root of all good exegesis and exegesis is the foundation of all truly Biblical preaching.
Ramm 1971, 8.
The second chapter of the book deals with this matter of hermeneutics. This is the next foundational step, after Inspiration. An uncertain hermeneutic leaves the student of the bible in very uncertain territory that is very unstable.
Amongst methods of interpretation, the allegorical method stands out as one of the most insidious and dangerous. Instead of God being the author of the bible, the mind of the interpreter becomes supreme. Note the following example.
An illustration of the allegorical method is Origen's treatment of Genesis 24:16, “[Rebecca was] a virgin, neither had any man known her”; which means, says Origen, that Christ is the husband of the soul when it is converted and that Satan becomes the husband of the soul when it falls away.
Ramm 1971, 97.
Since there are no rules for the deductions of the interpreter, there are no rules to test him! As a system, it puts itself beyond all well-defined principles and laws.
Since there is no basis for my choice, no one can criticize me!
This position claims unlimited licence, with no checks at all.
i. It disregards the common and obvious significance of words, and indulges in fanciful speculation, that has no basis in fact.
ii. It disregards the legitimate meaning of the author and foists into it whatever the interpreter desires.
This method has serious implications for theology and preaching.
We note this problem particularly in the denial of Christ's humanity (the historical Jesus) in favour of the purportedly more spiritual concept of "the Christ of faith".
This argument then extends to Christ's resurrection (and other areas). The Church of England Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Dr. David Jenkins said:
I don't think it means a physical resurrection. It means a spiritual, a transforming resurrection, a real resurrection.
... I don't think it means a physical resurrection at all. It's a real presence, a real renewal of personality which is now transformed, to be alive for ever.
Quoted in the Brisbane Courier Mail, 27th March 1989.
Apparently a physical resurrection is not a real resurrection! The historical physical resurrection is ignored/denied.
Since the Bible IS (as distinct from "contains" or "becomes") the word of God, then God means what He says, and we must interpret the Bible literally (Milne 1982, 45) if we are to let Him speak.
By this statement it is affirmed that in the first instance God has said what He has said irrespective of subjective understanding, accurate exegesis or otherwise. If we quote any word, phrase or passage from the Bible, then it stands literally as God's spoken word. We then clearly differentiate this from what we understand by it.
This matter of literal interpretation is carefully examined as the prerequisite for sound biblical exegesis—the subject of the final chapter, with worked examples.