Monday, December 19, 2005

Principle of Interpretation

Anyone who sets himself up as an authority (of sorts!) on the Bible should preface his teachings with a statement of what his own basic authority is for interpreting it. On the magic web I happily came upon a noted authority who expresses my own belief so cogently that I feel led to reproduce it here as an example of how I think about the Bible:

""I ground my understanding of the Bible in the Confessions of the Reformed tradition. A line in the Scots Confession of 1560 states clearly my approach to reading scripture: "We dare not receive or admit any interpretation which is contrary to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of Scripture, or to the rule of love." We begin with the plain text of scripture, then interpret a text within the context of the whole Bible and the teachings of the church, and finally test our understanding by the great commandment to love God and our neighbor."

These are the words of Robert Traer.


david said...

well now that's a surprise.

interpreting the bible text within the context of the classical Reformed articles of faith. Wow! wouldn't have thought it of you.

I'm guessing when push comes to shove the Law of Love trumps the Scots Confession of 1650.

I've felt over the last year that one of the things that distinguished your and my reading is I hug the plain text more closely than you do but the Law of Love and more importantly the God revealled in the Law of Love informs both our readings.

Larry said...

Thanks, David. Frankly I have virtually no idea of what the Scots Confession of 1650 contains. My reaction to Traer's statement was totally directed at what you call the Law of Love. And his statement seems to indicate that he, too, is primarily concerned about that.

For some people the primacy of the Law of Love is more emphatic than for others. To me it means perfect freedom from any legalistic ideas making the Bible sacrosanct. It means that the loving God speaks to me in entirely different ways than he does to you, while using the very same verse of scripture as his vehicle.

We do have a lot in common, and we're very different. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (I Cor 12:4). PTL

Larry said...