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Hermeneutical Principles

Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation of a text, in this case, The Holy Bible. A basic hermeneutical principle that most Christian denominations accept is that Sacred Scripture Interprets ItselfScriptura sacra sui ipsius interpres. This principle means that Scripture passages throughout the Bible may and should be used to explain each other.[1] Simply put, Scripture alone (sola scriptura) must determine the intended meaning of Scripture. 

Confessional Lutherans also accept an additional principle for the interpretation of Holy Scripture, viz., the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. This is a "corollary to the principle that Scripture interprets itself."[2]

The distinction between the Law and the Gospel is a particularly brilliant light. It serves the purpose of rightly dividing God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:14) and properly explaining and understanding the Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles.[3]

Finally, Confessional Lutherans see the saving work of Jesus Christ at the center of all Scripture. The chief article of the Christian faith is that we are justified by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fides) in Christ alone (solus Christus), and not by any works of the Law. God is gracious to justify sinners for Christ’s sake. This is the key that opens up the meaning of all of God’s Word, which is always and forever pointing to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.[4]


[1]  Nafzger, Samuel H., John F. Johnson, David A. Lumpp, and Howard W. Tepker, Eds., Confessing the Gospel: A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology.Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis. 691

[2] Ibid, 692

[3] Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V

[4] Confessing the Gospel: A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology. 692


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