Thursday, March 29, 2007

Interpreting the Bible

In the Bible we come face-to-face with God’s Word to mankind, so it’s a good idea to understand what we read. But how do we study the Bible with understanding? As anyone who’s tried to read through the whole Bible can testify, some parts are simply hard to understand. And if you’ve tried discussing it with others, you know that five people can read the same passage and find six different interpretations.

So what’s the key? The church. When we’re trying to understand a passage, we should be asking how the saints of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, have interpreted it through the years. And I don’t mean our little corner of the church over the past twenty, thirty, or a hundred years—or even the past five hundred. The key is how the whole church has interpreted the Bible from the beginning.

Of course, doing that kind of interpretation takes work. It also takes humility—to admit that our own individual minds may not be enough, and that Christians need one another for the most basic act of discipleship—hearing the voice of God.

(c) Copyright 2007, A. Milton Stanley


Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

I agree. We need to ask how has this been understood. That will not positively mean the "church" has it right. But there is "common sense" in asking learned and pious people their point of view. Church history enables us to sit at the table, as it were, with Augustine, Luther, Barth and ask some deep questions of them. We may find that they have reflected on "this" very profoundly.

Bobby Valentine

Milton Stanley said...


Thanks for adding to the discussion, Bobby. Peace.