This might seem like a strange subject to bring up at the (possible) end of a series, but it’s an important one.
A great deal of the discussion surrounding getting serious about our studies has been focused on different tools and learning aids—study Bibles, systematic theologies and technology. There’s so much I’ve not touched on (yet) including commentaries, original languages (although I’ve dealt with that elsewhere), Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias…
But there’s one thing I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t address this critical question:
How should you read your Bible?
What I’m talking about here is the science of hermeneutics, which is a big fancy word for “rules and principles for reading the Bible.” Whether we realize it or not, we do this every time we pick up our Bible—and the rules and principles we hold to drastically affect what we believe the Bible says. For example:
- Whether you believe pastoral ministry is for men only or is open to women as well stems from the interpretive decisions you make.
- How you approach the “God-hates-yet-loves-sinners” paradox is heavily influenced by your hermeneutical approach.[1. In fact, that I call it a paradox and not a contradiction itself is revealing of the interpretive rules I use!]
- How you understand the world to have come into being and how this world will end is drastically affected by the principles you use for interpreting the text.
I could go on with numerous examples, but I trust you get the drift. Hermeneutics really, really matter—we all use rules and principles of interpretation so we are obliged to do our best to make sure the rules we use are sound. Read More about Get serious about your studies: how should you read the Bible?