I believe that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the verbally, plenarily inspired Word of God. God employed holy men, whom He bore along in their writing, so that every word is just as He sovereignly designed. God did not override the author’s nature, but used it to record exactly His own intention. I believe that the Word, in its autographs, was perfect, and that God has preserved His word in a variety of translations.
I believe that the authors of the Scriptures intended only one sense (meaning) for what they wrote. When I interpret the Holy Scripture, it is my job to determine exactly what that meaning is. I must understand the context of the passage, and will never demean the Scripture’s divine character by knowingly distorting it say what it does not naturally. I recognize that it is the Word of God that will not return void; it is the “sincere milk” (1 Peter 2:2 KJV) that brings growth. I will compare Scripture with Scripture to determine its true sense.
As each book was written by a human, I must do my utmost to understand him or her. I must understand their race, their culture, and the historic events influencing them. I must understand their language, their education, and their occupation. I must understand the strengths and weaknesses of their character, and how others perceived them. I need to be able to look through their eyes, walk in their shoes, and experience the workings of their heart. I must interpret with a sound historical understanding of the text.
As each book was designed to communicate linguistically, I must do my utmost to understand the grammatical design being employed. This understanding begins by determining, to the best of my ability, the meaning of the original language. I believe that the words of the text are to be understood literally, but not literalistically. I will adhere to the old adage, “When the plain sense makes sense, seek none other.” However, part of discovering the plain sense is thorough understanding of the implications of the genre, sub-genre, and literary forms being used.
I believe that all Scripture is to be approached without preunderstandings. I will make every conscious effort to lay aside my theological predisposition, my denominational heritage, as well as any applicational goals I might have. I will endeavor to approach the text with a searching mind, allowing it to speak to me. It is my theology, heritage, and goals that must be made to conform to the text.
I believe the goal of interpretation is application, which leads to progressive sanctification and thereby, glory to God. Though the text has one interpretation, it has many applications, and I will endeavor, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to apply the truths to myself and those whom God commits to my charge. I will employ sufficient illustrations to convey the sense of each passage and will work to clearly herald forth the Word using every talent and gift I have been endowed with.
The highest hermeneutic and exegetical goals are in vain without a solid plan for attaining them. The apostle Paul himself feared that after preaching to others, he himself would be a ‘castaway’ (1 Cor. 9:27 KJV). The Bible warns the man that arrogantly believes himself capable of standing to take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Therefore, I shall endeavor to begin each day by humbly submitting myself to God, confessing my own sinfulness and inability, and claiming His all-sufficiency. It is only through Him that I can do all things. Next, I will boldly and consistently pray that God will illuminate His Word for me. I will daily open the Word and spend concentrated personal devotional time apart from study. I will hide God’s Word in my heart, with a structured ongoing program of Scripture memory. I will daily meditate on the Word, working it into my heart and soul. I will study, laboring in the Word and doctrine. I will be diligent to present myself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15 NASB). I will seek to continue a lifetime of learning in the Scripture–its language, its history, and its interpretation, by God’s grace and for God’s glory.