Principles of biblical interpretation
Scripture & Gospel
We view the Holy Bible as the written word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit to reveal, through the apostolic word of God (the Apostle's testimony of the Gospel), the truth concerning the Living Word of God (Jesus Christ, see John 5:39-40).
We believe that Scripture is rightly interpreted in the light of the answer to this key question: Who is Jesus? Scripture answers that Jesus is both fully God (the doctrine of the Trinity) and fully human (the doctrine of the Incarnation). Through his representative-substitutionary life, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus has united all humanity to God (the doctrine of the Atonement). Accurate understanding of Scripture occurs as we prayerfully conform our thinking to this revelation of the person and work of Jesus.
Universal & personal
Accurate interpretation of New Testament passages often necessitates discerning between two "realities." One is God's reality (from above) - the truth of the universal (objective) inclusion of all humanity in God's love and life in Jesus. The other is human reality (from below) - the personal (subjective) experience of people as they either embrace God's reality or reject it (or, as is often the case, are simply unaware of it). Some passages testify to God's reality (and invite people to receive it - e.g. Col 1:15-20), while others testify to the results of not believing (and warn of continuing to live in the darkness of unbelief, with its fallen distortion of God's reality - e.g. Col 1:21).
Context & language
Careful interpretation also involves accounting for the historical, cultural and literary context of each passage of Scripture. In addition, because the richness and subtleties of the original biblical text are sometimes lost in translation, it's important to check multiple translations and consult Bible lexicons or other translation helps. For more on this issue, see Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers by Michael Gorman (Hendrickson, 2009).