Reading Scripture Triperspectivally

January 21, 2012 — 6 Comments

[This post is part of the Perspectives on Triperspectivalism series]

Working off of the post last Friday mapping out John Frame’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, there’s an application we can make to how we read Scripture.

The more you understand the triperspectival Framework, the more you see areas where can be applied. The danger of course is to force fit it in places it doesn’t belong. However, I think if you don’t press it too far and agree that in places it does make sense that’s not the only way to look at/understand the subject, you should be fine.

So, keeping with how triperspectivalism works, these 3 ways are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are three ways of looking at Scripture that in principle include the others. You can however focus on one way or the other, and most of the time we actually move from the first to last.

First off, we can read Scripture philosophically. Doing this involves applying our understanding of language, grammar, and logic in order to accurately understand the text of Scripture. We can do this for a specific passage of Scripture, or can employ it across multiple passages to reconcile what may seem to be contradictory statements. In a way this is a normative way of reading Scripture since we’re applying norms of language and thought in order to interpret Scripture accurately.

Second, we can read Scripture theologically. Doing this involves applying our understanding of theology to our reading to see how it fits into the larger theological categories of Scripture. This would then be a situational way of reading Scripture since we are reading in light our theological commitments and reading individual passages in light of a theological situation drawn from the whole of Scripture.

Lastly, we read Scripture psychologically. Doing this involves applying our understanding of ourselves to the text. In doing so we can see how to apply Scripture to our own lives. But before we can apply, we need to recognize what is relevant to apply. This would then be an existential way of reading Scripture since it focuses on what we can learn about ourselves with an eye toward personal change.

This isn’t of course an exhaustive way of looking at reading Scripture, nor are these the only ways. However, pretty much every attempt to read and understand Scripture will involve applying our minds to understand the text (N), integrating it into a larger system (S), and then applying what we learn where applicable (E). Within each of these fields, there are normative, situational, and existential consideration.

Maybe in another post, we could parse those out further. But for now, what do you think of what I’ve got so far?


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

6 responses to Reading Scripture Triperspectivally

  1. I love it! Really reminds me of my recent revelation!

  2. Nate, I am enjoying your posts on Triperspectivalism. I wrote a post on my blog where I discuss three schools of theology that can be viewed through the TP lense – Systematic (authority/normative), Biblical (control/situational), and Practical (presence/existential). At the end of the post, I suggest several other TP triads. Thought you might want to take a look.

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