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My assumption is that I'm aiming for an evangelical interpretation of the Bible, using Graham Goldsworthy's Gospel and Kingdom as a guide. (Ie that we seek to use the Bible to interpret itself, keeping in mind the type of literature each book was written in, centring on the person of Jesus, his death and resurrection).

I heard one person say:

The great thing about interpreting the Bible is that it's like a field. You can find the boundary markers in the text, and then any position inside the field is fine.

I'd call this the generous but with boundaries approach.

I heard another person critique this view saying:

Well it's not that simple. There is a 'high place' in the field - and that is the better position.

I'd call this the reasoned opinion within the boundaries approach.

I heard another person say:

We need to pull our ranks together and get behind a single position from the text. Here is the best answer from the most qualified person on this topic.

I'd call this the top down approach.

I heard another person say:

We have to give people all the facts from the Bible, and let them work out their position for themselves.

I call this the bottom up approach.

I heard another person say:

The top down approach is problematic because it hurts our evangelism. We have to give people the tools to interpret the Bible for themselves. It's really important that people learn to interpret the Bible for themselves, and we give them the tools to do it, without forcing our position onto them.

I call this the pedagogical bottom up with grace approach.

These are all my terms, and I think there must be actual terminology for them.

Now let's apply this to a specific set of passages from the Bible.

On one side:

On the Law:

  • Leviticus 18:1-20 - the seriousness of sexual sin.
  • Leviticus 20:10 - If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

On being condemned by the law (and grace):

  • Galatians 3 - We're already condemned by the law (already dead by it)
  • Hebrews (Whole book) - We're dead to the law and it does not apply to us.
  • Romans 3:19-24 - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

On marriage:

On judging:

  • Matthew 7:2 - Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Now I need to find a position on this. I need a way of naming the different ways of grouping this together to find how much room there is to move.

My question is: What is the name of the distinction between 'teaching interpretation' and 'telling people what the interpretation is'?

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    Likely to be closed as "off-topic" because it does not reference a specific verse or passage, or "too broad", or "primarily opinion based".
    – user17080
    May 28 '17 at 5:11
  • Even that you've selected the right interpretative method via a choice, this makes all your interpretation subjective and contingent upon the validity of your chosen method (fallible canon of infallbile books). This is why Evangelicalism is self-contradictory. The consistent way to interpret the Bible, assuming its inspiration, is to acknowledge the orthodox understanding that accompanied it. If you can interpret Scripture in contradiction to its orthodox understanding, Scripture can mean any ol' thing to anyone. Because the limitations of interpretative freedom would all be arbitrary. May 30 '17 at 11:56
  • Thanks @SolaGratia - that's helpful. Could you point me to a term or name for this concept (that I can Google) so I can read more on this point of view?
    – hawkeye
    May 31 '17 at 12:28
  • As the logic necessitates, the answer as to how to interpret Scripture does not lie in Scripture itself (circular reasoning). Rather, it lies in an orthodox understanding of Scripture, which implies a true Church. I think you can tell where this is going... and it involves rejection of a novel doctrine of 'sola scriptura'/'bible only', which, ironically, is not taught in Scripture. To say it is, is again to beg the question of the validity of any given person's interpretation/interprative method. May 31 '17 at 12:59
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I was looking for the names of these categories - and I've found them. Further reading indicates these are questions of epistemology - answering the question "how can we know what is true?".

  • generous but with boundaries -> critical realism - The great thing about interpreting the Bible is that it's like a field. You can find the boundary markers in the text, and then any position inside the field is fine.

  • bottom up approach -> rationalism/revelation - We have to give people all the facts from the Bible, and let them work out their position for themselves.

  • pedagogical bottom up with grace - ** pedagogical rationalism** - The top down approach is problematic because it hurts our evangelism. We have to give people the tools to interpret the Bible for themselves. It's really important that people learn to interpret the Bible for themselves, and we give them the tools to do it, without forcing our position onto them.

  • top down -> authority - We need to pull our ranks together and get behind a single position from the text. Here is the best answer from the most qualified person on this topic.

  • reasoned opinion within the boundaries -> critical realism with authority - Well it's not that simple. There is a 'high place' in the field - and that is the better position.

In fact - these even touch on these epistemological categories as they correspond to church denominations.

EDIT: Someone asked how this relates to the question. In Biblical Hermeneutics we're trying to work out how what the Bible says, and are interested in the method of doing this. In doing this, we're trying to work out what is true - which is a question of epistemology. Different people have different epistemological preferences, which impacts how they work out what is true, which relates to how we agree on a method for interpreting the Bible.

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