How to Read the Bible Like a Puritan

young-woman-reading-the-bible-in-a-puritan-jail-new-england-1600sWisdom from J.I. Packer:

1. Interpret Scripture literally and grammatically. Ask, “What do these words actually mean?”

2. Interpret Scripture consistently and harmonistically. If Scripture is God’s word, then the expression of a single divine mind, all that it says must be true, and there can be no real contradiction between part and part.

3. Interpret Scripture doctrinally and theocentrically. Scripture is a doctrinal book: it teaches us about God and created things in their relation to him. Ask, “What does this teach me about God?”

4. Interpret Scripture christologically and evangelically. Christ is the true subject-matter of Scripture: all was written to bear witness to him. Ask, “How does this truth relate to the saving work of Christ?”

5. Interpret Scripture experimentally and practically. The Bible is, from one standpoint, a book of spiritual experience, and the Puritans explored this dimension of it with unrivaled depth and insight. Ask, “What Christian experience (joy, sorrow, doubt, anger, service, etc.) does this truth explain, call for, or cure?”

6. Interpret Scripture with a faithful and realistic application. Interpretation means making Scripture meaningful and relevant to those whom one addresses, and the work is not finished till the relevance of doctrine for their ‘reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness’ (2 Tim 3:16) has been shown. Ask, “What promise can I believe in this text?” Or, “What is one thing I want to see change in my life in light of this truth?”

(Taken from chapter 6 of “A Quest for Godliness” by J.I. Packer)

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