There is no Christian church that does not use Scripture to support its beliefs. Yet the role and authority of Scripture in theology is not the same in all churches. In fact, the role of Scripture can vary greatly from church to church. This is an important but complex subject that we will explore by studying five different influential sources that impact our interpretation of Scripture: tradition, experience, culture, reason, and the Bible itself.
These sources play a significant role in every theology and in every church. We all are part of various traditions and cultures that impact us. We all have experiences that shape our thinking and influence our understanding. We all have a mind to think and to evaluate things. We all read the Bible and use it for our understanding of God and His will.
Which of these sources, or combinations of them, has the final authority in how we interpret the Bible, and how are they used in relation to each other? The priority given to any source or sources leads to very different emphases and results and will ultimately determine the direction of our entire theology.