What is “Hermeneutics”? From Greek word, “to interpret” A method of interpreting correctly 2 Tim. 2:15: “rightly dividing [handling] the word of truth.”
Three Simple Rules Study the general teaching Consider time and place Discover the basic principles
1. Study the General Teaching Get the “big picture” Include all that the Bible or Mrs. White has said on the subject before drawing conclusions EGW: “The testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given, as scripture is explained by scripture.” 1SM 42
1. Study the General Teaching Bible example: eternally-burning hell? Rev. 14:11, smoke of torment forever But that’s not the whole story Rom. 6:23: Wages of sin is death Mal. 4:1: Coming day will burn them up Rev. 20:6, 14: Wicked die second death Jonah 2:6: “Forever” is only three days! Jude 7: Sodom suffered “eternal fire”
1. Study the General Teaching Disputes in church if ignore this first rule Some take one statement, ignore balancers 2T 400: “Eggs should not appear on your table” 7T 135: “In some cases the use of eggs is beneficial” 9T 162: “Eggs contain properties that are remedial agencies in counteracting certain poisons”
1. Study the General Teaching Disputes in church if ignore this first rule Some take one statement, ignore balancers Kneeling for prayer “is the proper position always.” 2SM 311 “Not always necessary” to kneel. 2SM 316; MH 510, 511 It is best to kneel in private devotions and for the main prayer for church.
2. Consider Time and Place Context, literary and historical EGW: “Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered” 1SM 57
2. Consider Time and Place Immediate context (paragraph, page, etc.) People “should never be taught to say, or feel, that they are saved” (COL 155) Context: Warning re: “once saved, never lost” Context: Peter’s self-confidence, denial of Christ
2. Consider Time and Place Context: “Never can we safely put confidence in self, or feel, this side of heaven, that we are secure against temptation... But even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation.... Our only safety is in constant distrust of self, and dependence on Christ.” (COL 155)
2. Consider Time and Place EGW understood basis of assurance: “Each one of you may know for yourself that you have a living Saviour, that He is your helper and your God. You need not stand where you say, ‘I do not know whether I am saved.’ Do you believe in Christ as your personal Saviour? If you do, then rejoice” (General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1901)
2. Consider Time and Place Historical setting: “Not one in twenty” Adventists ready for judgment (3T 471, in 1875) Prediction? No. Statement of condition Today might be better, or worse!
2. Consider Time and Place Customs may differ: take off shoes? Place: quote EGW in public? Historical setting: bicycles
3. Discover the Basic Principles Principles vs. policies: universal truth vs. application of universal truth Example: teaching girls to harness and drive a horse (Ed 216, 217) Example: bicycle craze (TM 393, 8T 51, 52) Example: flesh food vs. vegetarianism
4. Use Common Sense EGW: “God wants us all to have common sense, and He wants us to reason from common sense. Circumstances alter conditions. Circumstances change the relation of things.” (3SM 217) “We are to be guided by true theology and common sense.” (1MCP 148)