Rule #4, The Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation
Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized. – R. Van Kampen, The Sign, p.11
With knowing the rules comes our responsibility to use them. Perhaps this is why many long-time church-goers are hearing for the first time that rules for Bible interpretation exist. By acting like they do not, we only fool ourselves. As my good friend recalled: In Connecticut, where he once worked, there hung a sign: “Ignorance of the rules is no excuse!” The Lord’s Words are the supreme judge, even if we choose to discount them (John 12:44-48).
The enemy wants God’s people in the dark, especially about what is coming, so the devil casts doubt, spreads confusion, disinformation and fear, all through willing human agents. To cut through the fog around prophecy, we must have Light, the pure light of God. That entails using “The 5 Major Rules of interpretation” to remove all darkness from what God has declared.
A cloud has been cast on Matthew 24 by “Christian leaders” whom we have traditionally trusted. They earned our trust by teaching wonderful stories about Jesus. That is good in itself, but on the end times, whether duped or not, they practice deception.
Here’s an example where many are badly misinformed and where the failure to utilize Rule #4 has played to Satan’s advantage: It focuses on the two future events, “the rapture and Jesus’ return.”
The scenarios presented to Christians cover the gamut. They range from “Our Lord can come any moment” to “not until after the seven years of tribulation” or “not at all, not in a physical way” at the other end of the spectrum. (By “not at all,” I refer to teaching that states Christ’s return to reign is allegorical or “not to be taken literally.” See “Rules of Interpretation,” Rule #1.)
For over a century, the extreme positions of “any moment” or “imminent” vs. “allegorical” or “non-literal” have battled it out for “Most Popular.” Did it ever occur to either side in this debate that the truth may lay in the middle? Instead of regarding those with whom we disagree as the enemy, could we sit down in love, then apply “The Rules of Interpretation” to harmonize (bring together) positions. It is possible, but only if truth is the goal. Since I have experience with both sides, I am willing to mediate. If one side or the other breaks a rule of interpretation, we will disallow that argument. The contest ends when irrelevant arguments are removed from consideration and all relevant information is on the table.
It is like marriage counseling; help is available but only if each partner is willing to seek some middle ground. Egos must be put aside or we will never know that a third, more logical option is waiting. When all evidence is presented, harmony will be realized
The false dichotomy of either Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives was “not to be viewed as literal” vs. it was “to be taken literally but only by Jews” become irreconcilable differences, and that is how the devil wants it.
Next: In our search for harmony, can we move to the unshakeable ground of Biblical truth on the timing of the rapture? Yes, but only by following the rules.