Most anyone will admit that doing theology is a dangerous endeavor. Theology is where philosophy meets Scripture and a person attempts to systemize biblical teaching. The inherent risk is that the Bible contains multiple genres (narrative, poetry, history, apocalypse, etc.), whereas “good” theology generally comes in tidy packages of logical argument. Things can get lost in translation.
Yet, theology is necessary. We must be able to answer the question, “What does the Bible say about…?” We must therefore embark upon some systemization despite the risk.
What method can we use to protect the meaning of the text during this process? Here are the questions I’m currently asking (in order):
- What passages are relevant to this question?
- Which passages explicitly teach on this topic, and which are implicit?
- Using the explicit passages to shed light on the implicit ones, what does Scripture appear to teach on this issue?
- Having established what I believe the Bible to be saying about this topic, are the implications of my position contrary to Scripture in any way? If so, go back to step 3.
- Have I contradicted historical orthodox Christianity in my interpretation? If so, am I willing stake my faith and possibly my eternal salvation on this new way of understanding?
- Is there any other legitimately biblical interpretation of this issue? If so, I shouldn’t force this view on fellow Christians who may believe otherwise.
- Is this issue a primary doctrinal teaching of Scripture, or is it secondary? If it isn’t primary, I cannot let it divide me from any other group of Christians who may believe differently. This is for the sake of unity in the gospel.
How do you go about settling your belief on a given topic?
Filed under: The Gospel | 1 Comment
Tags: Interpretation, Theology