Thoughts on Interpreting Scripture

I am reading through some material that has been sitting on my desk (and floor, for that matter) and interacting with it. I will be doing this more often over the next few weeks. This will give me a way of putting this information on the site and providing a way to search through a lot of material quickly.

I came across this article by R. C. Sproul, Sr., in Tabletalk Magazine. In it Dr. Sproul is looking at how do we interact and interpret the Bible. The following reflections and quotation page numbers are taken from the January 2011 magazine.

Two Principles to Govern Interpretation

1. The Analogy of Faith: This is the idea that scripture is its own interpreter. What this means on a practical level is that a through investigation of what the Bible has to say on a subject should be done before any exploration of other sources.

2. “Sensus literalis“: This does not mean that “every text in the Scriptures is given a “woodenly literal” interpretation, but rather that we must interpret the Bible in the sense in which it is written” (6). What this means is that we do not violate the laws of grammar or genre in order to arrive at an understanding of what the text says. Sproul makes this plainly clear.

“Though the Bible is not like any other book in that is carries with it the authority of divine inspiration, nevertheless, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a written text does not turn verbs into nouns or nouns into verbs. No special, secret, arcane, esoteric meaning is pourted into a text simply because it’s divinely inspiried. … No, the Bible is to be interpreted according to the ordinary rules of language.” (6-7)

At the heart of this principle is the idea that we start with what we know and understand and then trying to make sense of those areas that are not as clear. In order to treat the Bible as a cohesive text we have to maintain that sense as we engage it. To do otherwise is to violate the integrity of the message that the bible contains. Sproul provided this clarifying thought. “Though we affirm the basic clarity of the sacred Scripture, we do not at the same time say that all passage are equally clear” (7).

The process of reading, interpreting and ultimately understanding what the Bible says ought to be the greatest priority of the follower of Jesus. These two principles are helpful guides as you study.

Let me know if you agree with Dr. Sproul or not…

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Remembering James Bailey Bodrey | “Too Short A Life”

James Bailey Bodrey

April 1, 1994 – October 20, 2012

I found out about James’ accident this morning as I was getting ready for a meeting. I was shocked by the news that his accident required him being taken to Macon. In the span of a couple of hours the news was not getting better. The sinking feeling in my stomach increased as word began to spread. By mid-afternoon, the worst outcome from this entire ordeal was realized. James had died, and part of all of the hearts of those of us who cared for him felt as if it had died too.

There are so many emotions that come over you when someone you know dies. But, those emotions are intensified and are even worse when that person is younger than you are. My first reaction to the news was anger. I was angry that another young man had died before the prime of his life. I was angry because it just did not seem fair that James died. I was angry at all the crazy things that would be said in an attempt to make the family “feel better.” There is no feeling better about this. This event, these moments are horrible and none of us wants to even think about them for another second!

But, as the day went on I became angry at myself. I realized that I made the mistake (once again) that I promised I would never make. I was angry because of all those moments and days that I had taken for granted. Life is far too short to allow ourselves to drift through it. I was upset about all of this, but then something else struck me. What struck me was all the young men and women at James’ alma mater, Crisp Academy, who knew and loved him. I thought of them and to them I direct these next words.

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Dear Crisp Academy Student,

I do not pretend to know how you are feeling. For many of you, the shock of this will take some time to think through. My prayer is that as you think about James and his life, that you would also take a look at your own life. And think about never taking any day for granted again.

How do you take a day for granted? When you complain about what you would rather be doing, instead of enjoying what you are doing (even when it’s homework or sitting in a classroom). When you are wondering about what somebody else said and then waste all that time worrying and plotting. You will never get that time back, and it was spent on something that will not make your life better. When you are so preoccupied with what is coming next in life that you will completely miss what is happening now. These are all ways that we take the gift of each day for granted.

Every time someone younger than me dies I am reminded that life is a precious gift. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Every morning is an opportunity to give thanks to God for opening our eyes. I want to remind you, in spite of your young age, to remember that each minute of life is given to us to enjoy. Don’t waste another day doing anything that you will regret.

My memories of James come from going to Crisp Academy every Wednesday and seeing him walk into the lunchroom with that goofy grin on his face and those bigger than life ears sticking out from the side of his head. I can hear him cutting up and talking trash about some rival team or the “other school in the county.” I remember him enjoying being who he was. He didn’t really try to pretend to be someone else. That is what I will remember.

Take care of yourself, strive to truly live everyday, enjoy every moment and may God bless you.

Victor Scott
Youth Pastor
Cordele First UMC

How Keeping The Speed Limit Keeps Me Sane

About one month ago I attended a men’s conference at one of my favorite outdoor camps, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. There are some good folks up there.

I am writing this because my wife noticed that I had started keeping the speed limit when I drove. When she asked I did not have a good answer for her. I still do not, but I have been thinking about it and wanted to share with her and with you some of my thoughts.

As I spent time away, reflecting and praying on a couple of decisions I had to make, something happened that I do not have a good explanation for. Nothing was said to make me think about the fact that most people speed when they drive. We talk about being good men, good fathers, good husbands. We talked about our devotional life with God. We talked about life and we ate good food. But, there was nothing said about the fact that most people in this country break the law every day. There was not any reference to this kind of behavior, but when I left the camp I was not speeding.

I like said, I am not sure why I am driving the speed limit consistently. I can not explain it, but what I know is the effect that it has had on my mind and heart. By obeying the speed limit I notice how many people are in a terrible hurry to get to the next place. I have noticed that people look at me like I’m the one that is strange. “Doesn’t he know that I have some place to be!” My fellow drivers just do not appear to understand why someone would NOT be in as big a hurry as them. It has been one of the most rewarding realities of my life. I was living a hurried life. And now, I do not have too.

Leaving five or ten minutes earlier is a better choice than trying to make up that five or ten minutes by driving recklessly. Most of our time on the road is less than an hour long. Driving five, ten or even fifteen miles an hour faster for that short a distance does not really improve driving time. What driving faster does is amplify the affects should (God forbid) an accident occur. This is a great website from Australia that helps validate this by providing stats on the effects of speeding on a possible accident. (I am pretty sure Australians have the same tendencies as we do. They are humans too.)

Here are some of the findings that they discovered. Driving over the speed limit:

  • increases your chances of being involved in a crash
  • means you have less time to react to avoid a crash
  • takes longer to stop the vehicle to avoid a crash
  • increases the severity of injury in a crash.

This is not the only interesting effect of keeping the speed limit. Keeping the speed limit has given me something to pray about as I drive. I find myself praying more as I drive. I just keeping thinking of all the people who genuinely believe that if they do not speed all their plans will fall apart. I have realized that I do not want this to be my life.

I have learned that keeping the speed limit not only makes good practical sense, it makes good spiritual sense. I want to live a consistent life before God. I am not where I need to be, but I hope that I am making progress.