Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Midweek Meditation: On Interpretation (J.I. Packer)

"All Christians have a right and duty not only to learn from the church's heritage of faith but also to interpret Scripture for themselves. The church of Rome doubts this, alleging that individuals easily misinterpret the Scriptures. This is true; but the following rules, faithfully observed will help prevent that from happening." (James Innell Packer, Concise Theology, Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1993, 6)

  • "Every book of Scripture is a human composition, and though it should always be revered as the Word of God, interpretation of it must start from its human character." (6)
  • "Every book was written not in a code but in a way that could be understood by the readership to which it was addressed.This is true even of the books that primarily use symbolism: Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation. The main thrust is always clear, even if details are clouded." (6)
  • "Each book had its place in the progress of God's revelation of grace, which began in Eden and reached its climax in Jesus Christ, Pentecost, and the apostolic New Testament." (7)
  • "Each book proceeded from the same divine mind, so the teaching of the Bible's sixty-six books will be complementary and self-consistent. If we cannot yet see this, the fault is in us, not in Scripture." (7)
  • "Each book exhibits unchanging truth about God, humanity, godliness, and ungodliness, applied to and illustrated by particular situations in which individuals and groups found themselves. The final stage in biblical interpretation is to reapply these truths to our own life-situations; this is the way to discern what God in Scripture is saying to us at this moment." (6-8)
  • "No meaning may be read into or imposed on Scripture that cannot with certainty be read out of Scripture - shown, that is, to be unambiguously expressed by one or more of the human writers." (8)

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