Sorry for the delay in posting but, once again, life got in the way as I’m trying to get doctoral applications out the door!
We are counting down to the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and looking at how that important statement was encapsulated in the 1980 work “Inerrancy,” edited by Norman Geisler. Dr. Walter Kaiser penned the chapter on “Legitimate Hermeneutics” or legitimate interpretation of Scripture.
Kaiser called for a true reformation of how champions of inerrancy speak about Scripture. Specifically, he contended for evangelicals to speak about the meaning of the Biblical text (and the article “the” rather than “a” is important).
Too often evangelicals have fallen into the trap of the “read a verse and comment” approach where they speak about how they “feel” about a verse or section of Scripture. Yet, proper interpretation seeks to understand THE meaning of the text intended by the inspired author.
Paul was clear that God provided the church with teachers for a reason (1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11). The Bible is a library of 66 books given in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic over a span of thousands of years in several different historical and cultural contexts. In order to understand “the meaning” of a text, it takes a commitment to scholarly study of the language and literary & cultural context of the Scripture at hand. Otherwise, even committed Christians, can lapse into a wholly subjective reading of God’s Word.
Liberals approach the text with presuppositions that the text is a human product corrupted by transmission or editing by various parties with various agendas. Thus, liberals often do not believe in “the meaning” of a text but various meanings that often lies somewhere behind the text.
A belief in inerrancy means taking the text seriously as it has been given to us by God. The Lord gave us His Word via human authors in a specific place and time using a specific language and respecting it as such means studying it properly. Because of the gravity of knowing the given will of God, a church should settle for no less than teachers who are trained in the disciplines of careful Biblical interpretation and committed to continuing study to understand THE meaning of the text. The Word of God is too important to be treated without the respect it deserves.