One of the criticisms from so-called “progressive christians” is centered on biblical interpretation. I have heard often from these progressives and secular thinkers that there are so many ways to interpret scripture, and therefore we have no way of proclaiming absolute truth from it. How can we possibly know what is right and wrong when man wrote the scriptures (which is half true) and man is tasked with interpreting the scriptures. Human fallibility will always be the obstacle for those who refuse to embrace biblical authority. But if you have been following along with this blog series, you will know that I have already made an argument for biblical inerrancy, which is the understanding that the Bible has perfect authority because it was written by God through men as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). If this is true, and we are given 66 books of the Bible to work through, biblical interpretation is best done with the Bible itself. The word of God helps us better understand the word of God.
“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which are not many, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.” -1689 LBC Chapter 1, Paragraph 9
The Whole Counsel of God
The apostle Paul understood the importance of this rule, and therefore declared the message of the whole of scripture (Acts 20:27). The Bible is the best interpreter of itself that there is. That is why we need to read it all and consider all of it as a whole to make sense of the truths within it. Of course there are different forms of literature within the Bible. Narrative, prophecy, poetry, apocalyptic, etc. But all of these different genres with different human authors are not at odds with one another because God is their ultimate author. All that he has given us is of value, and all that he has given brings wisdom with regard to the parts within. Do not neglect the whole counsel of God.
Search Other Places
The clarity of scripture comes when we look to other places to understand better what we are reading. Genesis and Galatians help us understand one another. The Gospels and the Psalms are connected with prophecy. The first chapter of John is best understood when read along side Genesis 1. The book of Job is best understood when cross referenced with other passages about suffering and the sovereignty of God. Our Lord has given us his word that we might benefit from it as a whole, not merely in bite sized pieces. Of course there is a lot to learn from zooming in on a paragraph, a verse, or even a word. But if we do this and neglect the whole counsel, then we will find ourselves not interpreting scripture with scripture and in danger of forcing our own interpretation on the text.
Read It All
This point in the 1689 should give us encouragement to read all of scripture. There are many tools at our disposal today that can help us accomplish this. Bible reading plans can easily be downloaded or printed out. Most of our Bibles, both digital and print, have cross-references that expand on the passage we are studying from other places in the Bible. For many, reading the whole Bible can seem like a daunting task. But the truth is there is more joy to be found laboring in the word than mindless entertainment. We just have to prioritize what is better for our joy. And the word of God is pyre for true joy. Heap it up and wait and pray for the Holy Spirit to set it ablaze.