Wayne Grudem on How to Interpret the Bible, part 2


Dr. Wayne Grudem (bio) has been lecturing through his text on Systematic Theology during his Sunday School class at Scottsdale Bible Church. I jotted down the following notes while listening to his second lecture on mp3 (first lecture HERE) on basic Bible hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible).  

  
  
 
Lecture Notes

The following are four big picture items to keep in mind when we read and interpret the Scriptures –  

  1. The Bible is an historical document
    1. The Bible means today what it meant in history (it’s original context)
    2. A Bible passage means what the author intended for the ORIGINAL reader to understand **
    3. We must study historical context
  2. The primary response should be the response the author intended for his readers **
    1. The authors wrote what they did, because they expect the readers to respond in some way
    2. In seeking application from a passage, ask what application the author originally intended
  3. The whole of the Bible is [primarily] about God (not primarily helpful tips for living) see Baptist catechism below
  4. The center of the whole of the Bible is Jesus Christ
    1. The OT looks forward to Him
    2. The NT flows from Him
    3. All true application is ultimately in Him – Lk 24:27

**NOTE: We must remember the Divine author sometimes means more than a human author intends.  

Baptist Catechism (Spurgeon Edits), 1677 (1855), Question #3 

Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?” 

A. “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.”     

 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words:
and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

The words of the wise are as goads,
and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies,
which are given from one shepherd.
And further, by these, my son, be admonished:
of making many books there is no end;
and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:10-13

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2 thoughts on “Wayne Grudem on How to Interpret the Bible, part 2

  1. Re. Mr. Grudems How to study the Bible:

    He says (according to your notes:

    The Bible means today what it meant in history (it’s original context)
    A Bible passage means what the author intended for the ORIGINAL reader to understand **
    We must study historical context
    The primary response should be the response the author intended for his readers **
    The authors wrote what they did, because they expect the readers to respond in some way
    In seeking application from a passage, ask what application the author originally intended

    This is a common method to maintain a dispensational view, however it is one that Scripture itself simply does not support. For just one example, what long term prophecy was to be understood by the “person” who “authored” it? None! They were given for those who would experience the events. Thus, we should NOT seek to know how the people to whom the prophet spoke would have understood it, because it is irrelevent. Consider the book of Revelation. What could John have understood of what he was commanded to write? Little if any. It was not for him, just as Daniel was told explicitly that the things he saw were for later times, after he had long passed away.
    This kind of exposition is designed to support one idea: the false notion of two peoples of God. May we all begin to recognize it for the falsehood it is.

    Thanks very much for your site. I enjoy it very much.

    God Bless.

    • Hi Joe –

      Thank you for the kind words regarding the site.

      Regarding Grudem, the ironic thing is that Grudem is Covenental in his approach to Scripture, not a dispensationalist. Perhpas Grudem was trying to impress upon the hearers that we cannot read a passage from Scripture and simply ask ourselves what it ‘means to me’ today in my context. It was written to others who live in a different context. Listen to the MP3, Grudem is very enjoyable to listen to, and you may disagree with my notes!

      You have a good point about prophecy. The recording of prophecy or writing of wisdom literature is a lot different experience for the writer than transcribing a dream or vision given to a prophet that he may not understand. Where the New Testament interprets prophecy, I do not attempt to un-interpret it by considering how the original hearers puzzled over it.

      Thanks again for your comment, Joe.

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