How I Study the Bible as an Orthodox Christian.

As an Orthodox Christian I approach the holy scripture in much the same way as my Protestant brothers and sisters do. I believe they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, both in their content and in their canon. I believe they are spiritual, and that they should be approached prayerfully. I believe they are reasonable and can be studied in a rational manner. Proper exegesis and hermeneutic must be applied, and historical context should be considered.

Where I may differ is that I also realize that they can often be interpreted in various ways. I am aware, in fact, that individuals far more learned, and perhaps sincere, than I have come to polar opposite views by appealing to the very same scripture and using rational exegetical and hermeneutical approaches. Because of this, I do not approach the scripture armed first with my own intellect and reasoning. I go there guided by those who have lived the Christian faith, and whose lives are the fruit of it. I read the fathers, and allow them to shape my approach. I give this particular weight when they are in consensus, believing that this is the witness of the Holy Spirit in the Church. I do not hold them infallible, but I do not flippantly dismiss their testimony in favor of my own understanding.

Further, and forthrightly, I cannot believe that the Holy Spirit who inspired the canon failed to inspire the Church in the understanding of it. Thus, when the whole/catholic Church has spoken in agreement, I believe what the Church has bound on earth is bound in heaven. I speak here of the ecumenical symbols of faith, such as the Nicene and Chalcedonian. While some may protest this assertion, I believe such is rational and, in fact, demanded by the scripture and reason.

These things do not restrict my rationality nor force me to cognitive dissonance, rather they provide safety rails as I traverse the, often treacherous, path toward the knowledge of God in Christ that is given so powerfully in holy scripture. I do this precisely because I believe they are God-breathed. No man should take in the breath of God without tremendous gravity. Like the rails and rungs of a ladder, the fathers and the symbols of faith allow me to move upward in understanding. This is how I study the scripture…