The Scripture is very clear about what it is and how it is to be interpreted. Two passages come quickly to mind:
II Peter 1:19-21 – We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (American Standard Version(ASV)
II Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works. (ASV)
These verses are saliently clear, ALL Scripture is inspired of God and Scripture is not to be interpreted according to one’s own emotions, feelings or opinions. This was the un-contested understanding of the early church. However, near the end of the 2nd century, this began to change. Origen of Alexandria began to teach that the Scripture had “multiple meanings” and that each person could “interpret” each Scripture “allegorically,” i.e. according to their own individual experiences. This philosophy, grounded in the pagan Homeric Greek philosophy of Plato, took hold in the apostate church and holds sway to this very day. It is a philosophy embraced by the Roman Catholic Church and “emergent” theologians such as Brian McLaren. It is a man centered philosophy that essentially places God in a secondary position in the search for and the establishment of truth. Mechanically, this “allegorical method” is one that looks inside the Sacred Writ and allows the seeker to “pour in” his or her own “meaning” into the passage. The “truth” that is therefore “discovered” is of the making of the seeker and in the “image” of man. This is what Paul warned of in Romans 1:25 when the “interpreters” of his day…”changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” (Webster' 1833 Bible) This madness is known to us today as eisigesis (ice-a-gee-sis). A relative new term coined ca. 1878, eisigesis is defined as;
“The interpretation of a text…by reading into it one’s own ideas.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster, Inc. Publishers, Springfield, MA, 1991), pg. 399)
To coin a phrase, for one to embrace eisigesis in the pursuit of truth would lead one’s search for salvation onto the “thin ice.” Eisigesis has brought us everything from 2nd century Gnosticism to 19th century liberalism to the so-called “Emergent church” of today. The process takes one in circles, always searching and yet never finding. Eisigesis allowed King Saul to rationalize keeping alive the king of Amalek as well as the best of the herds and flocks instead of utterly destroying them as God had clearly commanded in I Samuel 15. Today, eisigesis allows men and women to rationalize all kinds of things un-biblical though the Scripture clearly teaches that additions and subtractions to God’s Word are strictly forbidden as we see in Proverbs 30:6.
There we are enjoined to “…not add to His words or He will rebuke you and prove you to be a liar.” (Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.)
On the other hand, those who wish to honor God and move “neither to the right or to the left,” view Scripture from an exegesis [ex-a-gee-sis (“ex” – out of)] basis. Exegesis is what Jesus Christ referred to as “having ears to hear.” It is the mindset that instead of injecting our own opinions into the Scripture, we humbly extract God’s will for us from the Scripture without question or argument. The exegete is totally subservient to his or her Lord and Master’s Word, the final say in the on-going war of biblical interpretation. In I Samuel 15, Samuel was the exegete while Saul was the eisigete. Samuel is now honored among the faithful while Saul was removed from the throne of Israel. Just how we interpret God’s Word has the most serious of consequences.
Eisigesis views the Word of God as a collection of “stories, historical fiction and fables” to be “interpreted” via one’s own life’s experiences rendering God a god of “confusion” and “contradiction.” It produces a foundation of sand causing both spiritual collapse and spiritual death. The end of eisigesis is unbelief and the end of unbelief is death eternal.
Exegesis views the Word of God as 100% “God breathed,” “Holy Spirit inspired” and is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (Websters 1833 Bible, op. cit., II Timothy 3:16) It has nothing to do with our own life’s experiences, opinions or conjectures. It is not influenced by circumstance or any kind of pragmatically conceived benefit. It produces a foundation of rock solid faith rendering both spiritual stability and spiritual life. The end of exegesis is belief and the end of belief is life eternal.
So dear reader, which are you, an “ice” or an “ex?” Heaven and hell anxiously await your response.