So, to pick up where we left off: What is the Bible?
Well, it's not magic. And it's not mystery. It's communication.
And like any other form of communication, to be of any use at all, the Bible must be understood.
And to be understood it must be interpreted.
And as we saw last week, anything that must be interpreted is subject also to misinterpretation.
And if the Bible really is crucial information given to us from God, just think how incredibly important it is that we not misinterpret.
What we believe, what we support, how we live, what we think, our goals, our hope, our eternal fate . . . all depend on correctly understanding what God has to tell us.
So we need to get it right.
But there's a problem.
As we saw two weeks ago, getting us to doubt, despise or misunderstand God's word is one of Satan's primary goals.
And based on what I see in the world (and even in the Church!) he's doing an extraordinary job.
If we're wise, we'll make getting an accurate knowledge and understanding of the Word of God our primary goal.
There are many ways we can approach, read, and interpret Scripture. But one really bad way is to force our own personal meanings onto the Word of God.
This kind of reading means we respect the author and His message so little that we're willing to assume we know what He means. (Or maybe we just assume He means exactly what we want Him to mean?)
And when we do that with the Bible we commit an act of defiance against the God who inspired it.
Because of this danger, we must be careful to read the Bible the way it was written. We have to know who wrote it, who they were writing to, why they were writing, the style they were using, what was happening in the world around them, etc. And doing this kind of reading is called exegesis. It's the process of properly extracting information from a written text.
Like many things, one of the best ways to understand what exogesis is (exo = take out) is to look at its opposite, which is isogesis (iso = put in).
A person who is doing isogesis approaches the Bible like this: "I know what I believe (or what I want to believe), and I'm going to find support for it in this book." When your attitude's like this, you'll have no trouble proving absolutely anything you want from the Bible. In fact, that's exactly how cults work. If you study the cults, you'll see it almost every time.
Finally, next week I will list and explain 5 Rules for Exegesis.