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HERMENEUTICS

Studying the nature of God requires a balanced view of Scripture. Some things to realize when examining the Bible is that Scripture is to tell us what something in fact means and not us tell the Scriptures what it must mean.

Secondly, a single verse (more less an unclear one) cannot interpret the whole Bible. It is the crystalline passages of the whole Bible that is to interpret the verse. In other words, context, context, context!

For instance, say I were to read a book about rain and read hundreds of sentences that described rain as drops of water condensed from the atmosphere. Then say I came across one sentence that described rain as cats and dogs. Would I then ignore the other descriptions about rain being water and believe that rain is literally cats and dogs falling from the sky? I think not! Further review would reveal that "raining cats and dogs" is a metaphor for VERY HEAVY drops of water.

Thirdly, through the progress of revelation, the Old Testament is interpreted by the New Testament.

Another thing to consider is to use a Bible version that you can understand. Oneness adherents, generally speaking, are loyal to the King James Version (KJV). The KJV has only been in existence since 1611 and was created for the same reason modern translations are - ease of understanding.

However, it does not have the same advantage as the newer versions, such as the New International Version (NIV), which are translated from recently discovered manuscripts which are dated earlier than those used for the KJV. Unless you are familiar with Old English I would not recommend the KJV for a careful study of God's Word.

Take Acts 28:13 in the KJV as an example. It reads, "And from thence we fetched a COMPASS..." Now what does that mean!? If you base it on modern English then you would probably surmise that Paul and his companions obtained an instrument for showing direction. However, the NIV does a much better job of clearing it up. It reads, "From there we set sail..."

Oneness Pentecostals often accuse Trinitarians of teaching "unbiblical" doctrine by using words not found in the Bible, such as "Trinity.1" However, they ignore the fact that they too use words not found in Scripture, such as "Oneness", "mode", "roles" or "Incarnation." I'd much rather use a word not found in the Bible that describes what ALL the Bible has to say on a topic, than limit myself to only words that are found in Scripture, yet reject or be ignorant of the remaining aspect of God's revelation. My "References" page includes two resources for learning more about how to correctly interpret Scripture.


1. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 11.

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