Thursday, September 27, 2007

Humilty in Exegesis and Theology

I am very much from the school that holds the exegesis of the Bible in its original languages in very high regard. We say that we can know the meaning of Scripture (i.e., authorial intent) through a study of the vocabulary, grammar and syntax, literary context (of the passage and entire book), historical-cultural context, etc.. And fortunately for us, we live in a time in which we have a multitude of tools and scholarship to evaluate each of these things.

As dry as such rigorous study may sound, it results in a beautiful, vivid (and accurate) view of Scripture. I simply cannot see Paul's rhetoric in Colossians without understanding the Greek language. If I fail to see rhetoric, double entendres, syntactical structure, etc., I risk failing to see the argument of the entire book. Rigorous study of the parts of a book help me understand the whole. Understanding the whole helps me refine my study of the parts. So I completely affirm the usefulness of this rigorous method of study because I believe God's Word is authoritative and worthy to be understood as fully as possible. We need Bible teachers who can study like this and teach the Word to others. I affirm this school to which I subscribe.

But recently God reminded me of something: No matter how I study (how long, how deep, etc.), only His Word is innerant, not my word about his Word. We (protestants) cry out against the notion that a man could be infallible and declare doctrine perfectly. But many of us, if we were pope, would practically affirm this doctrine of papal infallibility. The pope is fallible unless it is me. Of course none of us would say that, but we hold our interpretations and our doctrines high, sometimes risking their elevation above Scripture itself. Let us be humble, study hard, teach confidently but not arrogantly, and keep asking that God would give us insight into His Word.

Most of all, so long as it depends on us, may we never let division arise in the body of Christ because of differing views on tertiary issues.

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