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?

I think so

I think the symbolism of scripture probably outweighs the literal meanings of scripture. Most Christians quickly agree with that, to a certain degree. For example, they are quick to embrace the "moral lesson" portions of the OT. But I think the same thing carries over to the NT, as well, and I find more sense in scripture when I think of the symbolism of a thing, rather than the reality of a thing.

For example--water baptism. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out just what exactly 'happens' when someone is baptised in water. And then I came to understand that the baptism of John (which Jesus seems to have adopted) originally symbolized the forgiveness of sins and a clean start. And once I arrived there, I realized that when the Apostle Paul wrote more about water baptism, he was simply building on already established symbolism.

Most things in the Bible are like that, symbol stacked on symbol, line upon line, concept on concept.

As far as the classic "scripture interprets scripture" it is my suspicion that this approach is popular because people can then negate or dismiss any approach to God that doesn't fit their particular interpretation of the Bible. Like Bro. Michael Legna says, (yeah, he isn't the first) it creates about a billion mini-popes. Someone reads a doctrine in a scripture, someone else disagrees, and they can support their dismissal of that doctrine with another verse.

It all sort of leads to scripture wars, I think. Denomination wars. Sect wars. Adventures in missing the point...

"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