Strange, even wild, views have always cropped up within Christianity. From pole sitters like the monk Simeon Stylites to snake handlers of Appalachia, men and women have come up with some pretty odd ideas in the name of Christ. Today just as many diverse views creep into the church, such as the belief that there is no hell or that life evolved over millions of years.
The Bible warns us that false teachers will arise and turn many away, so it is more important than ever for all Christians, not just church leaders, to learn how to distinguish legitimate views from serious errors. We all must handle the Word of God accurately. The name for such study—reading and interpreting the Bible correctly -- is hermeneutics. Every Christian should know this term and understand the basic principles of interpretation.
The Most Basic Principle
We must consider many things to interpret scripture passages properly, including the context of the passage, but perhaps the most basic principle of proper hermeneutics is to understand what the words themselves mean. This step may seem obvious, but it is critical to those of us who hold to a literal, historical, contextual and grammatical interpretation of Scripture. Every single word was inspired and chosen by the Holy Spirit, a truth referred to as the plenary, verbal inspiration of Scripture. God guided the biblical writers to give us the exact words He wanted in the original manuscripts while still allowing the writers to use their individual vocabulary and style.
[Read the rest of the article at Answers in Genesis.]