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?

michael_legna's picture

Need for witnesses and both offenders

JStaller said -
Jesus kept the ENTIRE Mosaic law.

But why does it matter? If he TAUGHT that obedience to the law was a matter of internal motivation, doesn't it follow that sometimes the resutling external behaviors (like, for instance, what Jesus taught about remarriage) takes us outside the literal application of the law?

Yes, for us it does, because we never were able to satisfy the letter of the law, but Jesus was able to satisfy the letter of the law and He did in each instance. But of course we need to be careful to keep in mind that Jesus kept the real law, as stated in scripture, not the artificial additions put on by the Pharisees. Of course your point on the stoning of the woman is not of this type, but as Talmid points out, the reason she was not stoned was because there were technical issues wrong with the accusation. First the man was not brought along and second there were not two credible witnesses to come forward. So Jesus could not accuse her and He chose to express mercy toward the woman and told her to go and sin no more.

JStaller said -
And if Jesus taught that, why wouldn't he live it?

He taught it because we could not live up to the letter of the law, but He fulfilled the letter of the law to be a perfect sacrifice.

JStaller said -
You say that Jesus kept the entire law. Would that be the case when he dismissed the adultrous woman? Because the law of Moses really did demand the stoning, and Jesus let her off the hook. Seems to me that does cross that obedience line.

I think I addressed this above and so did Talmid with his excellent post.