Vern Poythress’ Three Ways to Read the Bible

July 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

I recently read Vern Poythress’ book Symphonic Theology and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He makes a wonderful case for the validity of utilizing multiple perspectives in developing a robust theology. One of the ways he demonstrates this thesis is by arguing that one should contemplatively read the bible with multiple perspectives in mind. He notes that while the bible is a unified body of literature, it has come to us through a variety of inspired authors, metaphors, and themes. Poythress contends that approaching the text from different perspectives will have implications that are far-reaching for theology and doxology. So what are we to do with this? Well, he advocates for reading with these three perspectives in mind…

  1. Ethical – Reading the bible to understand our duty focuses on the ethical principles and their implications for daily living and decision making. What are we to do and not do as the people of God?
  2. Devotional – Reading the bible devotionally is primarily interested in the psychological dimensions of communion with Christ. What is the inspirational thought that will help me maintain a spiritual outlook?
  3. Doctrinal – Reading the bible for doctrine typically approaches the text asking, what does this passage say about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit? What theological doctrine is being revealed here?

Poythress proposes that many people only read the bible from one perspective. He compares this to the husband who only pays attention to the mechanical utility when he shops for curtains, ignoring their aesthetical appeal. Basically, if we only read with one perspective we may only notice what we are already looking for. But what if there is more? What if we are missing something deeper? Dr. Poythress writes:

“Suppose that [one] reads the same passage of the Bible ten times. Suppose that each time the person adopts a new perspective from the ones mentioned above. Would not that person learn something new about the passage each time? A given perspective can be dangerous or stultifying if we use it all the time. But looking at a familiar passage in a fresh light can make it suddenly come alive again…consequently, each time we may notice something new or something that did not really capture our attention before. If we are to sound the depths of the passage, we need to come back to it again and again…Thus when we use a multitude of perspectives on a passage…we use each perspective to reinforce and enhance our total understanding. “[1]

Dr. Poythress offers free downloads of his books in PDF here.



[1] Vern S. Poytress, Symphonic Theology, 23-24.

About these ads

Entry filed under: Biblical Theology, Books, Calvary Baptist Church, Christian Theology, Christianity, Culture, Faith, Philosophy, Religion, Theology, Thoughts. Tags: .

An Evening with C.S. Lewis Community Serve 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Twitter

#gingham Until next time. Stay classy #OIB

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,639 other followers

%d bloggers like this: