Interpretation of Scriptural Validity


Abstract

Today, one has the ability through technological advancement to access information faster, and more precise, than ever before. It is because of this ability though that culture and society today have become propelled by a sense of cynicism. Long gone are the days of taking a man at his word; its been replaced with an era of skepticism longing for proof. The Bible’s validity has become a prime target for those desiring dogmatic evidence. Questions have been raised as to the Bible’s inerrancy giving way to different views of thought. Real answers to these questions are discovered through hermeneutics and the realization of personal predetermination.

Interpretation of Scriptural Validity

Mal Couch (2000) concludes the first chapter of his book, An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics, with the question, “Is the Bible actually the written Word of God?” It is with this question in mind that he pursues the validity of Scripture over the first three chapters. Couch touches on topics such as, inerrancy and hermeneutics to fully discover the truth behind this question. Yet, in order to discover the truth behind this question one must fully relinquish any preconceived expectations in regards to Scripture; as finite human beings our preconceived notions are capable of obviously preempting truth. 

Full Inerrancy

This concept of full inerrancy asserts that all Scripture is both fully inspired and correct (Couch, 2000). Those who ascribe to this notion of Scriptural validity believe that the Bible is fully inspired by God from front to back. Couch makes a very valid point for this argument by stating, “The bottom line is, if Scripture cannot be trusted in some areas, it cannot be trusted in any area.” The danger of veering away from full inerrancy results in a flawed process of delineation. If one argues of inerrancy of doctrine surrounded by contextual history which may contain flaws, then they are placed in the dilemma of proving Scripture themselves. If the contextual history of the Bible is flawed in some way then can we truly believe in Acts? The book of Acts gives us the actions of the apostles. We understand the process of salvation because of a sermon preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost. The true questions, as Couch stated, are if we negate one aspect of Scripture, where is line drawn and what is the aspect of inerrant delineation? 

If we are placed in the predicament of determining the credibility of Scripture, then we must start in Scripture itself. Here we can determine that if Scripture is without a doubt flawed, the flaw will reveal itself, and disprove the validity of the Bible. Yet, we will see that numerous times throughout the Bible, Scripture actually aims to prove itself. 2 Timothy 3:16 argues this point by stating, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The writer here makes it clear that all scripture is profitable. Yet, somehow, there are those who discredit this entire approach in favor of a belief in limited inerrancy. 

Limited Inerrancy

The assertion of limited inerrancy is based on the notion of error within the Bible on topics such as science, history, biography, etc. Yet, the Bible is still totally credible in the areas of doctrine and practical application. Adherents of this concept state that books such as Kings or Chronicles give us historical accounts but may be flawed in some aspects. After all, these accounts took place thousands of years ago. It would be somewhat impractical to believe that these manuscripts actually contain credible content. 

I believe the foundation of this argument must first acknowledge the methodical approach of Old Testament scribes. In order for a scroll to be considered correct it would have to pass a series of tests. Some of these tests included: disqualification if even a single letter is added, disqualification if even a single letter is deleted, the scribe could not write one letter by heart (HaTorah, 2002). The Jewish people were extremely meticulous about the Word of God to ensure it contained no errors. 

Over time the word of God has actually proven itself against even the most stringent of scientific arguments. Theories discrediting the Bible, such as the lack of evidence of a Hittite nation, have actually proven to only add more validity. The synoptic Gospels tell the story of a man from the accounts of three separate individuals and were written at different times,  yet are almost word for word in some places. Scripture will prove itself time and time again, however, it is possible that the errors are not the Scripture but in our interpretation of it. 

This is where the concept of hermeneutics and interpretation of the Bible comes into play. Couch gives numerous examples of reading the Bible from a normal or literal viewpoint. There are also aspects of literal allegory, and even personal theology that will impact interpretation. Ultimately, the validity of the Bible comes down to our personal interpretation. Despite the numerous accounts of factual information regarding scientific topics there are still those that will argue against facts. Inerrancy and validity come down to the simple concept of faith. In essence, it takes as much faith to discredit the Bible as it does to validate it. 

I believe one of the aspects of the text that impacted me the most was the realization that I’m the determining factor of Scriptural interpretation, no matter how factual it may be. The context of my life and of my experiences can result in a flurry of preconceived notions regarding Scripture. I have been raised in church and have been taught the principles of the Bible since I was a child. On a different spectrum there are those who have been raised with different understandings of religion and hold them as strict as I do. If I’m going to be a vessel to show the light of the gospel to this world, then I have to prove the truths of the Bible in life. What makes the Bible different from any other book, with simple words on a page, it is the living Word of God; the words contained within the pages of the Bible come to life when read and applied.

References

Couch, M. (2000). An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics: A Guide to the History and Practice of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

HaTorah, A. (2002, May 14). Accuracy of The Torah Text. Aish. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://www.aish.com/h/sh/tat/48969731.html

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009) (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.