Hello, sir. I was talking with my Roman Catholic girlfriend about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura this morning and she said, "If there are so many ways of looking at the Bible, how do you know which is correct?" I told her that you just let Scripture interpret Scripture, not our opinions. What would you have told her?
You said it well. An important principle in interpreting the Bible is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. In practical terms, that means that if we are having difficulty understanding a particular section of the Bible, we look to other parts of the Bible that contain the same subject matter to derive meaning of that difficult section.
In addition, we take into account matters like genre. God communicated his message to us in the Bible through different kinds of literature: historical narrative, poetry, prophecy-teaching, epistle and apocalyptic. Recognizing the genre will point the way to proper interpretation. It is also important to recognize symbolic and figurative language from literal language. Understanding words in their context is critical to accurate biblical interpretation.
While we need to use our minds to read and interpret Scripture, we do not let human reason change the meaning of Scripture.
Finally, as Lutheran Christians, we look to Scripture alone as the source and foundation of our faith. This month’s Light for our path column in Forward in Christ addressed that point.
God bless your conversations with your girlfriend!