I love to study the Word and
preach, but I've learned that neither can properly exist in a
vacuum. I must know the text well enough to teach it with
clarity, but I must also know my people well enough to help them
apply it to their lives. That means I must genuinely love them,
be involved in their lives (to the degree possible), and do my
study with them in mind. For me, that has always been the
greatest source of joy and encouragement in the ministry.
Regarding the text itself, I believe in the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture. The specific hermeneutical principles I apply to a passage will vary depending on its literary format (narrative, parable, poetry, prophecy, and so on), but my goals are always the same: to discover what the passage says, what it means, and how it applies to my life. Once I've done that, I can teach it to others with accuracy and integrity.
A Bible passage may have many applications but it has only one meaning. My responsibility is to discover that meaning as accurately as possible with the study tools available to me. Toward that end I have assembled a reference library of approximately 1,200 volumes.
I use a six-step study procedure, which I've briefly outline here. It is followed by a list of the primary hermeneutical principles I affirm.
1. The Clarity of Scripture
The clarity of Scripture addresses the question of how we can make sense out of a book so large and with so many perplexing passages. Scripture can be understood by studying its words with their corresponding grammatical structure and meaning. The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds, adding to our understanding of the text (1 Cor. 2:6-16).
2. Accommodation of Revelation
God accommodates His revelation to man via human languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).
3. Progressive Revelation
God's revelation becomes more complete and mature as we progress from the Old Testament to the New (Matt. 5:17; Col. 1:26-27; 2:16-17).
4. Scripture Interprets Scripture
The whole of Scripture is the context and guide for understanding the particular passages of Scripture.
5. The Analogy of Faith (Unity of Scripture)
Scripture contains a system of doctrine that is unified and non-contradictory.
6. The Unity of the Meaning of Scripture
Any given passage of Scripture has only one meaning.
7. Interpretation and Application
The ultimate goal of interpretation is application. Proper application depends on proper interpretation. There is only one interpretation, but there may be many applications.
8. The Priority of the Original Languages
Exegesis must be done in the original languages if it is to be competent and trustworthy.
9. The Necessity of Literal Interpretation
We must follow the normal and apparent sense of biblical words. We mustn't allegorize or spiritualize them.
10. Word and Grammatical Studies
Word and grammatical studies must be done with careful consideration of context.
11. Literary Mold or Genre
We must know a book's literary format (historical, poetry, wisdom, etc.) and be aware of figures of speech and larger literary forms such as parables and allegories. Some literary forms require special hermeneutical principles.
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