The Nature of Scripture and Revelation

How should scripture be interpreted? Is it all infallible and absolutely true? Is it all literal, or is it all metaphorical? Or is it somewhere in between?

My personal feeling is that scripture is a little bit of all that, but I'm trying to iron it all out, so any input you have is very very welcome.

There's a radio station in the Bay Area (where I live) that has an adverstisement for their home Bible study course, and they say bluntly that scripture should interpret scripture.

I can hang with that. But then they go on to say that, accordingly, we don't need to consider the initial intentions, meanings, cultures, or circumstances surrounding the Bible. Something there sounds a little fishy to me. I don't see the Bible making that claim for itself--though in II Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is indeed profitable for many things. Why, if the Bible is infallible, would we need to make the ADDITIONAL claim ON BEHALF of the Bible that it is indeed infallible--would an infallible book not make that claim for itself?

So how should we, as followers of Jesus, approach scripture? Sometimes, I think I see Jesus revering the scriptures he had, the Law of Moses--like during his wilderness temptations. Other times, though, it seems like he dismisses the Mosaic Law--particularly those scriptures regarding the Sabbath, the purity scriptures, and the scripture on divorce. Lots of people I know like to say that because Jesus was God he could do whatever he wanted in regard to the Word--but if God never changes, why did He change his eternal Word?

And, if we must then conclude that the law is just a temporary expression of an eternal Word, and then apply it to the New Testament canon, we have something of a loose standard for interpreting scripture. So, uh, that's where I'm at--how SHOULD we approach interpreting the Bible?

that IS a good rendering

I like the wiki links.

I've spent most of my life with Christians who interpret scripture with scripture. I suspect it comes from a natural tendency to find a concrete, "study-able," and knowable source of truth.

The problem I see most often with any other position is that, once you challenge the authority of scripture (in one fashion or another) the temptation is to find another truth-source that is still somewhat, well, authoritative. Its hard to actually listen to Christ, but simple to go read what someone wrote about Christ. The best method I've found so far is to do both--listen for Christ, listen to Christ, and listen to what Christ has said to others, as well. Try and balance the two.

It's not an authoritative method, but it leads to a practical theology, one that makes a difference in the heaven than is here and now.

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." John 5.39-40