Healthy Hermeneutics

Last week Jeff finished a series on difficult scriptures in the Sunday auditorium Bible class. The topic of hermeneutics—how we read and interpret scripture—came up each week in his class. I’d like to share the following article from Dan Williams, Vice President of Church Relations at Harding University. He emphasizes the importance of our view of scripture in churches of Christ. – Brian
We in the churches of Christ are a back-to-the-Bible group. Studying God’s Word has always been central to our identity, and for generations we have been known for producing “book, chapter, and verse” for our practices. We have a high view of Scripture for at least three reasons:
First, the Bible is the authoritative record of God’s revelation to humans. “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but MEN SPOKE FROM GOD as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). When Jesus, in the first century, promised the apostles in John 14 that they would receive the Holy Spirit, He was also indirectly assuring us in the twenty-first century that when we today read the writings of the apostles, we are receiving a message from God Himself. When Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is God-breathed” he is very directly telling us that to hear the Bible is to hear the voice of God!
Second, we have always had a high view of Scripture because we have a LOW view of human traditions. We are the heirs of the Restoration Movement in America; a movement that arose on the American frontier in reaction to denominational divisiveness and sectarian squabbling. Our goal from the very beginning has been to practice undenominational Christianity. You hear a lot today about nondenominational churches, but the churches of Christ are the original American undenominational church! In order to free men and women from the oppression of man-made ecclesiastical rules and regulations, and to provide a common ground on which all believers could unite, men like Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander, John Smith and many others urged people to lay aside human creeds and uninspired laws and return to the pattern of first-century Christianity. It was their dream that if we followed the Bible only we could be Christians only.
Third, and most importantly, the Bible is precious to us because it leads us to Jesus. ALL of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, have one central focus: they are intended to bring us God’s fullest revelation of all, Jesus, His incarnate Son. In Luke 24 the resurrected Lord rebuked two of his disciples for their failure to discern the prophecies of his death and resurrection. Verse 27 says, “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in ALL the Scriptures concerning himself.” From the opening verses of Genesis through the last chapter of Revelation, the grand theme of the Scriptures is that God was working out his plan for our salvation through Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah.
So respecting the authority of God’s Word is engrained in our identity – and serious Bible study has always been a part of who we are. I pray that such will always be the case.
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11

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