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Biblical Hermeneutics PDF Print E-mail


For your information, interest and intercession, please study this ICCP Discussion Document from the Reformation 500 Church Consultation in Wittenberg, Germany, October 2017, in preparation for the upcoming Reformation 500 Church Council Zürich, 15-19 July 2019.


If you have any suggestions on how these may be improved, or to communicate the support of your church, mission, or ministry, write to the International Church Council Project. 





We affirm that the normative authority of Holy Scripture is the authority of the Triune God Himself, and is attested by Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church and the Apostles.

We deny the legitimacy of separating the authority of Christ from the authority of Scripture, or of opposing the one to the other.



We affirm that as Christ is God and Man in one Person, so Scripture is indivisibly God’s Word in divine and human language.

We deny that the humble, human form of Scripture entails errancy any more than the humanity of Christ, even in His humiliation, entails sin.



We affirm that the Person and work of Jesus Christ are the central focus of the entire Bible.

We deny that any method of interpretation that rejects or obscures the Christ-centeredness of Scripture is correct.



We affirm that the Holy Spirit, who inspired Scripture, acts through it today to work faith in its message.

We deny that the Holy Spirit ever teaches anything to anyone that is contrary to the teaching of Scripture.



We affirm that the Holy Spirit enlightens and enables believers to appropriate and to apply Scripture to their lives.

We deny that the natural man is able to discern spiritually the Biblical message apart from the Holy Spirit.



We affirm that the Bible expresses God’s truth in propositional statements, and we declare that Biblical truth is both objective and absolute.

We affirm further that a statement is true if it represents matters as God has ordained them to be and actually are, but is an error if it misrepresents factual reality.

We deny that, while Scripture is able to make us wise unto salvation, Biblical truth should be limited in terms of this function.

We deny further that error should be narrowly defined as that which willfully deceives.



We affirm that the meaning expressed in each Biblical text is single, definite and fixed, unless proven to be multiple in authorial intent through sound hermeneutical and exegetical procedure.

We deny that the recognition of a single meaning eliminates the variety of its application.



We affirm that the Bible contains teachings and mandates which apply to all cultural and situational contexts and other mandates which the Bible itself shows apply only to particular historical situations.

We affirm further that all Biblical teachings and mandates have a universal applicability in “spirit” even while the “letter” of the Law may not have any immediate or contemporary application.

We deny that the distinction between the universal and particular mandates of Scripture can be determined solely by cultural and situational factors, but by the witness of all of Scripture.

We deny further that universal mandates may ever be treated as culturally or situationally relative.



We affirm that the term hermeneutics, which historically signified the rules of exegesis, may properly be extended to cover all that is involved in the process of perceiving what the Biblical revelation means and how it bears on our lives.

We deny that the message of Scripture derives from, or is dictated by, the interpreter’s understanding.

Thus we deny that the “horizons” of the Biblical writer and the interpreter may rightly “fuse” in such a way that what the text communicates to the interpreter is not ultimately controlled by the expressed meaning of the Scripture.



We affirm that Scripture communicates God’s truth to us verbally through a wide variety of literary genres.

We deny that any of the limits of human language render Scripture inadequate to convey God’s message.



We affirm that translations of the text of Scripture can communicate knowledge of God across all temporal, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.

We deny that the meaning of Biblical texts is so extensively intrinsic to the historic culture, out of which they came or to which they refer, that understanding of the same meaning in other cultures is impossible.



We affirm that in the task of translating the Bible and teaching it in the context of each culture, only those functional equivalents which are faithful to the content of Biblical teaching should be employed.

We deny the legitimacy of methods, which either are insensitive to the demands of cross-cultural communication, or distort Biblical meaning in the process.



We affirm that awareness of the literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis, and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of Biblical study.

We deny that generic categories that negate historicity may rightly by imposed on Biblical narratives that present themselves as factual.



We affirm that the Biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.

We deny that any event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the Biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.



We affirm the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal, sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text.

We deny the legitimacy of any approach to Scripture that attributes to it meaning the literal sense does not support.



We affirm that legitimate critical techniques should be used in determining the canonical text and its meaning.

We deny the legitimacy of allowing any method of Biblical criticism to question the truth or integrity of the writer’s expressed meaning, or of any other Scriptural teaching.



We affirm the unity, harmony and consistency of Scripture and declare that it is its own best interpreter.

We deny that Scripture may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that one passage corrects or militates against another. We deny that later writers of Scripture misinterpreted earlier passages of Scripture when quoting from or referring to them.



We affirm that the Bible’s own interpretation of itself is always correct, never deviating from, but rather elucidating, the single meaning of the earlier inspired text. The single meaning of a prophet’s words includes, but is not restricted to, the understanding of those words by the prophet, and necessarily involves the intention of God evidenced in the fulfillment of those words.

We deny that the writers of Scripture always understood the full implications of their own words.



We affirm that any pre-understandings which the interpreter brings to Scripture should be in harmony with Scriptural teaching and subject to correction by it.

We deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien pre-understandings, inconsistent with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism.



We affirm that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, Biblical and extrabiblical, are consistent and cohere, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else.

We affirm further that in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations, but not of truth itself.

We deny that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.



We affirm the truthfulness, consistency and harmony of special with general revelation, and therefore of Biblical teaching with the facts of nature.

We affirm further that special revelation of Scripture is prioritized over general revelation of nature by the witness of Scripture itself.

We deny that any genuine and true scientific facts are inconsistent or contradictory with the true meaning of any passage of Scripture.

We deny further that, though special and general revelations are equally true, they are not equally significant or meaningful.



We affirm that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.

We deny that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical, and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity or structural poetry may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.



We affirm the essential clarity of Scripture and specifically of its message about salvation from sin.

We affirm further that the clear portions of Scripture ought to be employed to elucidate the unclear portions.

We deny that all passages of Scripture are equally clear or have equal bearing on the message of redemption.



We affirm that a person is not dependent for understanding of Scripture on the expertise of Biblical scholars.

We affirm that a person should pursue the fruits of the technical study of Scripture aided by Biblical scholars.

We deny that a person should ignore the fruits of the technical study of Scripture by Biblical scholars.

We deny that a person is dependent on the expertise of Biblical scholars for the basic understanding of Scripture.



We affirm that the only type of preaching which sufficiently conveys the divine revelation and its proper application to life is that which faithfully expounds the text of Scripture as the Word of God.

We deny that the preacher has any message from God apart from the text of Scripture.


Coalition on Revival

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See also:

Reformation 500 Church Council Zürich

1. Authority of the Scripture

Ulrich Zwingli - The Reformer of Zurich

3. Essentials of Christian World View 


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