Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics 06 The Harmony of Scripture and Genre Principles 333

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The Harmony of Scripture Principlehermeneutics

Another principle of hermeneutics is the Harmony of Scripture Principle.  Scripture needs to be in harmony with the rest of scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  (17)  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The entire Bible is given by inspiration of God and does not contain any errors.  When we find a scripture that has the appearance of contradicting another scripture in the Bible, we must stop and figure out why they appear to contradict and how to reconcile them.  Every verse must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible.

Consider the following two scriptures:

Joh 10:34  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?  (35) If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Isa 43:10  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Mormons argue that John 10:34-35 illustrates that we can become gods but that wouldn’t  fit with other plain and clear scriptures (see also Isa 44:8, 45:5, 45:21).  Because this interpretation contradicts many clear scriptures that declare there is only one God, we must reject the Mormon interpretation and look for what Jesus actually meant.  God’s word does not contradict itself.  We need to make sure our interpretation of any given text does not contradict another scripture.

As an aside, this may be a bit off topic, but I cannot help myself.  Another problem with the Mormon interpretation is that it doesn’t fit with Mormon theology.  They believe they can potentially become gods if they observe their gods commands.   In John 10:34-35 Jesus called them gods (present tense).  He did not say they potentially could become gods.   The Pharisees weren’t even following Mormon theology so how could this support the Mormon belief that Mormons can become gods?  Oops.

The Genre Principle

The genre of a biblical text is important to know when practicing good hermeneutics.  There are 66 books of the Bible and several different literary genres that these books fit into.  The Bible contains poetry, history, prophetic writings, letters and books of wisdom.  We need to keep in mind what genre of book we are reading.  We should read a historical book like 1 and 2 Kings differently than we would read the poetry of the Psalms.  If we are reading Proverbs (wisdom) we should not assume that each saying is a promise from the Lord.  When Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”, we shouldn’t take that as a guarantee that our children will be saved.  Proverbs is a book of wisdom, not a book of promises from God.

The Watchtower makes this mistake when they read the doctrine of soul sleep into the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom that gives the perspective of a heathen man who has the opportunity to chase every worldly desire he wants.  Most of the Book is written from a secular viewpoint and cannot be relied upon for theology.  It is a book that imparts wisdom to the reader.  The Watchtower quotes Ecclesiastes 9:5 to show that the soul ceases to exist after death.

Ecclesiastes 9:5  “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are reading this scripture out of its intended genre.  This particular portion of Ecclesiastes is giving the perspective of the secular man and is not giving a biblically accurate position.  When practicing good biblical hermeneutics, we need to take into account what genre of text we are reading.

Join Youth Apologetics Training Tomorrow as we continue looking at principles of biblical hermeneutics.

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