Exploring the Bible
This past weekend we talked about the Bible. More specifically how we have gotten the Bible and the importance of context. Here we want to give you some of the tools to unearth the meaning and intent behind the words of the Biblical authors.
We know that the Bible is a collection of books that we written over thousands of years. There are different types of writings. There is wisdom literature, poems and songs, law and history just to name a few. We don’t each of these in the same way. We don’t read a poem like we do a first hand account of history or a book of law. Yet all of our scripture is God-breathed. It is helpful in the living our of our faith. It helps us to be better followers of Jesus and more in tune with the path that God has set before us.
The first 2 tools are from the SOAP method of reflecting on scripture. SOAP is an acronym for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. With this we are able to reflect daily on some of the scriptures and seek to apply them to our lives.
Here is a little SOAP card that tells about the study method that is intended to be printed on 1/2 of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper (that would be 5.5×8.5)–SOAP
This is the reflection sheet that I (Pastor Chris) use for my daily reflection. It is to be printed on a full 8.5×11 sheet (2 sided if you want to get fancy)– soap study
Biblical Interpretation Roadmap
While it is important to know the the context of the Biblical author and their perspective and reason for writing, that is only half of the interaction we have with the scripture. We also need to be aware and in tune with the things that we bring into the reading as well.
I (a white male) bring a different perspective to the reading of some passages than those who are on the margins or have a history or oppression. Being able to name our bias helps with reading scripture. For example, I have a full time job so when I read the creation account or scripture about the Sabbath it will sound very different to me than someone who is unemployed or underemployed.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral
The phrase which has relatively recently come into use to describe the principal factors that John Wesley believed illuminate the core of the Christian faith for the believer. Wesley did not formulate the succinct statement now commonly referred to as the Wesley Quadrilateral. Building on the Anglican theological tradition, Wesley added a fourth emphasis, experience. The resulting four components or “sides” of the quadrilateral are (1) Scripture, (2) tradition, (3) reason, and (4) experience. For United Methodists, Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine. Tradition is experience and the witness of development and growth of the faith through the past centuries and in many nations and cultures. Experience is the individual’s understanding and appropriating of the faith in the light of his or her own life. Through reason the individual Christian brings to bear on the Christian faith discerning and cogent thought. These four elements taken together bring the individual Christian to a mature and fulfilling understanding of the Christian faith and the required response of worship and service.
Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991,