When it comes to reading and understanding the Bible, there are at least five main schools of thought people use to interpret Scripture. They are:
Grammatical, Historical View
The Allegorical view was used by many of the early church fathers. Everything they read was viewed from a mystical, spiritual platform. There was no literal, concrete understanding of Scripture applied from a known real world. Interpretation was solely a subjective understanding of a non-physical, super-natural dimension.
The Liberal view analyzed Scripture from a current, cultural worldview based on man’s reasoning capabilities. If science cannot justify it, it must not be true. If it is not rational, then there is some error. Scripture becomes a personal, subjective study of its contents.
The Neo-Orthodox view Scripture as God’s spoken word to specific people at specific times and not necessarily meant for everyone everywhere at all times. However, when God’s written Word becomes meaningful and purposeful to the individual is when then God speaks to the individual.
The Devotional view simplifies Scripture to a “what’s in it for me” approach. It views the Bible as a self-help book extracting principles and values for personal enhancement. It at times focuses on the narrowest topic and excludes the global overview of the subject matter.
The Grammatical, Historical view looks at the context of the writings from the then culture when written and the known historical and literature data accumulated from then to arrive at its meaning and purpose at the then time. From there, Scripture is transferred to the present time under current conditions and made applicable and relevant in today’s culture.
Most of us, depending on our upbringing, will initially start reading Scripture from one of these viewpoints. Slowly though over time, as we become more of an amateur theologian, we will eventually fall into the Grammar-Historical view. Though we will occasionally, depending on the context and subject matter, entertain the other viewpoints, our main emphasis will be to become more and more a historical student of the Bible.
With the internet and libraries of stored reference, everyone who desires to know more about the Bible and its contents can become an avid student of Scripture. No one person on earth has the corner knowledge of Scripture. We are all studying and discovering more and more of Scripture’s practical implications for today. Yes, it takes time, but what you gain is a more confident reassurance of the Triune God’s involvement and love for you and humanity.
The bottom-line: no matter which viewpoint you use, the main focus is still Jesus Christ. When we realize HE is the centralized character of the entire Bible, then the various chapters and sections always seem to better align themselves built upon the foundation of the Incarnate Triune God. This is why we learn, integrate, and grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ through the application of Scripture in our everyday world. We discover more of who Jesus Christ IS and God’s overall purpose and plan for humanity.
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