One temptation for those who study the Bible is to always approach a biblical text through predetermined theological lenses. This can start when people are young and usually answer questions in Sunday School by saying “Jesus.” Although it is a good tactic to answer questions with the name of our savior, this practice can lead to not actually reading what each specific biblical text says and instead answering what each person thinks might be right!
One way to train young people to fight against twisting Scripture and having blind spots in biblical interpretation is by helping them observe each biblical text before drawing conclusions. This sounds simple, but I think that sometimes simplicity is needed in order to view a biblical text for what is actually there!
Dan Doriani shares four principles that remind us how to approach biblical texts and make observations. These quotes come from his book Getting the Message.
- “Principle 1: Beware of preconceptions. Observe what biblical text actually says.” (15)
- “Principle 2: Observe the text first, then explain it. As explanation proceeds, be sure it fits your observations.” (16)
- “Principle 3: Resist reshaping your observations so that they support your preferred theology.” (17)
- “Principle 4: Make note of any details that are for any reason especially striking.” (18)
One concluding thought: “The goal of observation is to overcome our own blind spots as much as possible.” (26)