Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Our Theology Conference on The Doctrine of the Scriptures is next week. Daniel Doriani, one of our speakers, will address the important topic/theme, Scripture in the Life of the Pastor.
I am both encouraged and grateful he will be joining us. His keen insight into the Bible and his unique understanding in applying its truth to the life of the Christian are exemplary.
In order to whet your spiritual appetite for the feast we will receive from Doriani, here are a few excerpts from something he wrote, which reflects his thinking and preparation for our Theology Conference: How Preachers Read the Bible for Themselves
Doriani raises the question about how we approach the Scriptures. Do we approach the text in a removed manner, only seeking to discern through our exegetical studies what the text meant? Or do we approach the text in a manner that seeks to discern through our exegetical studies what the text meant so that we can move to understand what the text means for the purposes of application in the lives of the people of God today?
In a prior day, the goal was the former, and the approach was referred to as the historical-critical approach to the Scriptures. Although one can approach the Scriptures in this way, something profound and life-giving is missing: personal application. Our study of the Scriptures has a goal. This is the Christian Scriptures. The former approach can be followed by one not even a Christian. The latter requires one to be a Christian in order to discern and apply, since both require the Holy Spirit.
Although most Evangelicals are no longer following the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, the unique temptation to Evangelical preachers is to equate biblical knowledge with spiritual maturity. By default, in practice it becomes similar with a common end result: the Scriptures are for preaching to others, not to oneself.
Doriani does not address the two disciplines of biblical interpretation and application separately but rather as two aspects of our approach to the Scriptures. He writes, “Proper reading of Scripture always seeks faithful practice. We understand Scripture when we know how to use it. . . . the faithful believer should never study Scripture in a detached way. . . . leaders ought to read the Bible with an eye to apply it both for the church and also for themselves.” It is critical to remember this Book, the Bible, is the Christian Scriptures, so we approach is as such, and we are Christians, so we respond to it as such.
The question is then asked: How do or should we approach the Scriptures? Why is it that we need regular reminders and exhortations to read the Scriptures, with the right focus of interpretation and application? In response, Doriani traces the various mile-markers of a believer’s approach to Scripture that shed keen insight into the answer. I include excerpts of this five-fold progression.
Where are you in this progression?
I trust many of you will be in attendance at our Theology Conference. You will hear the rest of Doriani’s thoughts on this important topic, along with many others addressing additional topics related to the Scriptures.