SPECIAL TOPIC: THE BIBLE (Bob's Presuppositions)

At this point I need to be as transparent as possible and try to spell out my own operating assumptions. We are all affected by non-biblical factors. I am not attempting to get you to agree with me, but to provide a more consistent, verifiable methodology for personal, non-technical Bible study. The methodology is not inspired, but it is a developed ancient Christian model. My basic presuppositions are

A. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is from the one and only Creator, Redeemer God (see Special Topic: Monotheism). He gave it to us through human instrumentality so that we might know and understand Him and His will for our lives (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17). It is absolutely authoritative.

B. The Bible, like hermeneutics, is not an end in itself, but a means to a personal encounter with God. God has clearly spoken to us in the Bible and even more clearly in His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-3). Christ is the focus of all Scripture. He is its crowning fulfillment and goal. He is Lord of Scripture (cf. Matt. 5:17-48). In Him revelation is complete and final (John 1:1-18; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:13-20).

C. The Bible is written in normal, non-technical human language. Its focus is the obvious, normal meaning of words, clauses, sentences. The Holy Spirit gave simple statements of truth. This is not to say that the Bible is unambiguous, that it does not contain cultural idioms, or that it does not contain difficult passages and, at this point in time, scribal errors. However, it does not have hidden or secret meanings. It is not contradictory (analogy of faith) although it does contain paradoxical or dialectical tension between truths.

D. The message of the Bible is primarily redemptive and is meant for all humans (John 1:12; 3:16; 4:42; 1 Tim. 2:4; 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:10,14). It is for the world, not exclusively for Israel (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6, see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan). It is for the entire "lost" (fallen) world, not only for the church. It is for the common, average human being, not only for the spiritually or intellectually gifted.

E. The Holy Spirit is an indispensable guide to proper understanding.

1. There must be a balance between human effort and piety (2 Tim. 2:15) and the leading of the Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13-14; 1 John 2:20-21,27).

2. Biblical interpretation is possibly a spiritual gift (like evangelism, giving, or prayer), yet it is also the task of every believer. Although it is a gift, by analyzing the gifted, all of us can do a better job in Bible study.

3. There is a spiritual dimension beyond human intellectual reach. The original authors often recorded more than they understood (future events, aspects of progressive revelation, and multiple fulfillment prophecy). The original hearers often did not comprehend the inspired message and its implications. The Spirit illumines us to comprehend the basic message of the biblical writers. We may not understand every detail, but then, who does? The Spirit is the true author of all Scripture.

F. The Bible does not speak directly to every modern question. It is ambiguous in many areas. Some of it is locked into the original historical setting (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:29) and other parts are hidden behind the "not yet" of history (e.g., Dan. 12:4). It must be remembered that the Bible is analogous truth, not exhaustive truth. It is adequate for faith and life. We cannot know everything, either about God or a specific doctrine of Scripture, but we can know what is essential.


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