Whenever we read written material we apply principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) in an attempt to understand what we read. For AFTB, two overarching factors come into play:
- Submissive predisposition
- Unity, harmony, and consistency of the Scripture
AFTB is conservative Christian. We believe a useful interpretation of the Bible starts with a submissive predisposition. Psalm 119:34 summarizes the prerequisite attitude: [God] give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law.
This is a two-way situation: God does something, and you do something in response.
If you bring your own agenda to the Bible it is easy to bias interpretation (isogesis), rather than letting the Bible speak for itself (exegesis).
Further, AFTB attempts to interpret the various parts of Scripture in a way that accords with its central teachings.
2 Timothy 3:16 says that All Scripture is inspired by God.
Based on this unity and completeness, we interpret less clear passages in light of more clear passages, and favor cross references within the Bible itself, rather than external referencing.
Views of the Bible: Many Westerners believe the Bible is an important, foundational piece of ancient literature, full of lessons and stories conveying centuries of human philosphy, religion, thought, and experience. This is one prominent view of the Bible.
Other people view the Bible as a guidebook for Jews and Christians, but not necessarily for themselves.
In fact, the Christian New Testament is an extension of the Jewish Bible, also known as the Old Testament. As such, both testaments serve as repositories of instruction and enlightenment for believers in the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
When Jesus walked on earth, He tenatiously adhered to the Old Testament and practiced the Jewish religion.
Still others subscribe to a fundamentalist view.
This view is held by Jews and Christians who take the Bible to be literally true in every respect.
They believe the Bible was written by God through the hands of God-inspired men, and has been thus preserved by God throughout the ages. Therefore, according to the fundamentalist view, the Bible contains absolute truth without error.
It is God speaking to human beings throughout time, including today.
AFTB attempts to explore biblical topics from these three viewpoints: the foundational view, the guidebook view, and the fundamentalist view. Other views, including those that treat the Bible as nothing more than a piece of ancient literature, are not discussed.
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