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?

fr_wayne_mcnamara's picture

Scripture Interprets Scripture????

Hello Everyone, from the Newbie,

I have for years tried to figure out what this means and have concluded it is fundamentally meaningless.

If we mean that the more we read and know the Scriptures the more we can understand them...I guess I am fine with that. But that is kind of a "DUH!"

The problem is that many Christians, Mormons, JW's, etc. all say the same thing. The real issue is one of deciding which reading of the Scripture you accept as authoritative.

Jesus made a promise, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

Either Jesus kept His promise or He did not. But knowing Whom we have believed let's say He did, and that He has, for the last (nearly) 2000 years, through the Holy Spirit done precisely that. At the risk of being hacked to death by countless counterexamples, if you look back over the centuries it is not difficult to find a consensus (please indulge my simplicity for a moment)- things affirmed "by the whole Church in all places at all times."

May I use the very clear examples of Nicene orthodoxy, the Symbol of Chalcedon, and Church councils affirming our current Canon of Scripture. All of this is the Holy Spirit leading and guiding the Church into all truth, and in this He forms a body of orthodox tradition (o, that dread word.) This is Christianity, the voice of the Holy Spirit in history. We are given it, we receive it, but we cannot change it or create our own versions more suitable for us (the bane of modern American Christianity). The Spirit has spoken in the corridors of history. We must hear Him, believe Him, make what we hear our own, and faithfully live it before the world. We may come to richer more complete understandings of Holy Scripture (He is still leading and guiding) but the core or essence will remain unchanged. I can accessorize my '57 Chevy Bel-Air but it is still a '57 Chevy Bel-Air. If I change the body, parts, or essential structure it becomes something else but it is no longer simply a '57 Chevy.

(Hey, you wanna take a ride in my '57 Chevy?)

In Christ,


The course of true love never did run smooth.

The course of true love never did run smooth.