A Method of Biblical Interpretation for the Modern Adventist Mind

Speaker: Categories: Jan 11, 1992


[1hr, 9min, 22sec / 31min, 31sec]


Is there more than one way to interpret the Bible? If so, is there one way which is better than another? Is there a right way? If so, who decides?

This topic has been of continuing interest to members and friends of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Adventist Forums. Most recently Smuts van Rooyen, our January speaker, served on the Justice Commission of the Southeastern California Conference. The Commission's immediate task, its mandate, following the specially called SECC constituency meeting of October 21, 1990, was to address questions of ethnic and gender equality. But a more basic question surfaced rather immediately: namely, "How should the Scriptures be interpreted?"

Now for many, the method for interpreting the Bible has always been clearly understood. It's simple! One merely links texts together -- "line upon line, here a little, there a little" -- and this proof-text approach is guaranteed to produce "truth" on any topic chosen. However, when some of us moved beyond the Bible Doctrines classes into investigation of our own, we discovered that texts could be linked very selectively. Even more distressing was the realization that surface meanings of texts, using our contemporary culture and language, were not consistent with what was originally intended or meant.

Well then, if proof-texting is not the answer to appropriate biblical exegesis, what is? And who should make the decision Bible scholars, pastors, church administrators, laity? What if the church chooses not to address this question -- what will be (or has already been) the consequences?

Smuts van Rooyen has been keenly interested in this discussion for many years. His recent work on the SECC Justice Commission heightened his awareness of the crucial, even desperate need this church has for resolving this question before matters of any theological substance can be resolved credibly.


Born in South Africa, Smuts van Rooyen completed his Master of Divinity work at Andrews University. He has all but completed a Ph. D. degree in Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa. He will soon satisfy requirements for Ph.D. degree in Counseling Psychology at Andrews University.

He and his wife, Arlene (who will be accompanying him at the January 11 meeting), have three children: one who serves as a reporter for the Corona Independent newspaper; two who are students at La Sierra University.

Smuts has taught as a member of the Departments of Religion at Southern College, Loma Linda University, and Andrews University. He is currently senior pastor of the Riverside SDA Church though the Conference Directory lists him as Director of Counseling.

As a teacher, pastor, and friend -- his contributions to Adventism are highly valued by many within the Church.

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