When determining the meaning of a text, Biblical Christians realize that...
1. all texts have a single
unifying meaning: This is to say that any text worth serious consideration is written with a specific purpose in mind
and that it is the role of the reader to discover the purpose that unifies the text
; Biblical Christians reject the idea that a text can present multiple main ideas (especially if those ideas conflict with one another) or that a worthwhile text is meaningless. If we cannot determine the meaning of the text, then we do not use it as a source of doctrine until (if ever) we can determine its fundamental meaning. Moreover, we recognize the importance of determining the text’s original meaning and original manner of presentation.
2. meaning is derived from situational, inter-textual, and intra-textual context [and]: That is, the meaning of a text is discovered through considering the history and cultural setting of the text (situational context—who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, and how?),
how the text relates to other texts (inter-textual context—between or among texts), and what the text has to say about itself and its own meaning (intra-textual context—within the text).
3. understanding meaning is a cognitive process
: Put simply, you cannot discover the meaning of something unless you take the time to really consider what has been said; meaning is not assumed—it is discovered. Further, one is culpable (responsible) regarding his or her own search for meaning; Biblical Christians do not defer interpretation to another as ignorance is the fault of the student. This is not to say that teachers are not held accountable for heresy. In fact, it is one of the roles of a student to carefully weigh and scrutinize another’s teachings (as well as his or her own beliefs) so as not to be led astray by false (untrue) doctrines.