How do you interpret and apply Scripture?

Take a look at Scot McKnight‘s Hermeneutics Quiz and determine how you personally interpret and apply the Bible. You just have to answer a handful of questions, all multiple choice, and it returns a numerical position on a scale ranging from more conservative to more progressive treatment of the Bible.

Here are my results if you’re curious:

The Hermeneutics Quiz
Score: 71
Evaluation: You scored between 66 and 100, meaning you’re a progressive on The Hermeneutics Scale.
Explanation:

The progressive is not always progressive. Those who score 66 or more can be seen as leaning toward the progressive side, but the difference between at 66 and 92 is dramatic. Still, the progressive tends to see the Bible as historically shaped and culturally conditioned, and yet most still consider it the Word of God for today. Following a progressive hermeneutic, for the Word to speak in our day, one must interpret what the Bible said in its day and discern its pattern for revelation in order to apply it to our world. The strength, as with the moderate but even more so, is the challenge to examine what the Bible said in its day, and this means the progressives tend to be historians. But the problems for the progressives are predictable: Will the Bible’s so-called “plain meaning” be given its due and authoritative force to challenge our world? Or will the Bible be swallowed by a quest to find modern analogies that sometimes minimize what the text clearly says?

Here’s a sampling of some of the questions:

The Bible’s words are:
1. Inerrant on everything.
2. I fall somewhere between No. 1 and No. 3.
3. Inerrant on only matters of faith and practice.
4. I fall somewhere between No. 3 and No. 5.
5. Not defined by inerrancy or errancy, which are modernistic categories.

Homosexuality’s prohibitions in the Bible are:
1. Permanent prohibitions reflecting God’s will.
2. I fall somewhere between No. 1 and No. 3.
3. Culturally shaped, still normative, but demanding greater sensitivity today.
4. I fall somewhere between No. 3 and No. 5.
5. A purity-code violation that has been eliminated by Christ.

Discerning the historical context of a passage is:
1. Unimportant since God speaks directly to me.
2. I fall somewhere between No. 1 and No. 3.
3. Often and sometimes significant in order to grasp meaning.
4. I fall somewhere between No. 3 and No. 5.
5. Necessary and dangerous to avoid in reading the Bible.

So, what’s your score? Any thoughts on any of the specific questions? I think this could be a good one for discussion…

(HT: Emergent Village)

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “How do you interpret and apply Scripture?

  1. hephzi-

    Agreed, I think it’s hard to remove all bias… probably impossible.

    I think it was still very worthwhile, even if it’s not perfectly objective.

    It is interesting to see places were we are inconsistent, or seem to contradict ourselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Come back again sometime!

    -Curtis

  2. i think there is some bias in the wording of several questions. sometimes i don’t like any answer, other times i want to choose several answers.

    for example, question 2:
    The Bible is:
    1. God’s exact words for all time.
    2. I fall somewhere between No. 1 and No. 3.
    3. God’s message (instead of exact words) for all time.
    4. I fall somewhere between No. 3 and No. 5.
    5. God’s words and message for that time but need interpretation and contextualization to be lived today.

    i feel both answer #1 and #5 are very true, but i don’t like answer #3. an interesting quiz, though. my score: 62

    also, i thought i might add, McKnight says, “Following a progressive hermeneutic, for the Word to speak in our day, one must interpret what the Bible said in its day and discern its pattern for revelation in order to apply it to our world.” — though he calls this progressive, this is practiced and taught by almost every conservative biblical scholar as well.

    if i were to generalize (unfair, i know!) i would say conservatives seek to understand historical context to clarify how a particular scripture should continue to be binding today, while a progressive seeks to use the historical context to label portions of scripture as outdated and non-binding today.

  3. My score: 67 (only marginally ‘progressive’ apparently :-))

    It was interesting – of course I don’t think that my theology can be defined or discerned by 20 questions – that wouldn’t really be progressive now would it?! Also I suspect that by thinking about different angles my total could probably be +/- 10 or so.

    Scott – I agree with your first sentence although it was other questions that I stumbled over. Your final sentence is very interesting – but all the conservatives I have known (including my younger self) have found it to be OK to dismiss some things as only historically relevant (as the quiz attempts to point out I think). It seems to me now that to open the door to question other scriptures in the same way is progress indeed – even if the answer is that they (some/all?) are both infallible and straightforwardly applicable today.

  4. …but all the conservatives I have known (including my younger self) have found it to be OK to dismiss some things as only historically relevant
    you’re right.. i should have clarified my earlier statement by saying “conservative scholars” rather than “conservatives”.

    interestingly enough, there are many “conservatives” that actually have a progressive hermeneutic… and probably many more that have little hermeneutic understanding at all ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Scott-

    You’re just a hair shy of Progressive! Welcome to the dark side! ha ha. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    “…a progressive seeks to use the historical context to label portions of scripture as outdated and non-binding today.”

    You’re right, that was unfair! ๐Ÿ™‚ True in some cases I’m sure… but I think we could make the same case about the extreme side of conservatism, in that the entire Bible is binding today, regardless of what the history and context might have been. That’s not what all conservatives would say, but definitely some.

    Exile-

    “It was interesting – of course I donโ€™t think that my theology can be defined or discerned by 20 questions – that wouldnโ€™t really be progressive now would it?! Also I suspect that by thinking about different angles my total could probably be +/- 10 or so.”

    Well said, and I agree.

    And I like when you used the word “progress” as opposed to progressive, I think that’s a really great thing to remember. That the root word of Progressive, is “progress”, and progress is (typically) a good thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for stopping by and keeping the conversation going!

    -Curtis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s