How Do You Interpret the Bible?

Bible glasses
Leadership Magazine has created an online quiz to determine what your hermeneutic is (how you interpret the Bible). By answering 20 multiple-choice questions, they believe they can determine if you are conservative, moderate or progressive in your hermeneutic method.

Are you curious about how you would score?

This quiz is designed to surface the decisions we make, perhaps without thinking about them, and about how we both read our Bible and don’t read our Bible. Some will want to quibble with distinctions or agree with more than one answer. No test like this can reveal all the nuances needed, but broad answers are enough to raise the key issues. On a scale of 1-5, mark the answer that best fits your approach to reading the Bible. (If you fall between response 1 and response 3, give yourself a 2.) Your score will reveal where you land on our hermeneutical scale.

I scored a 43, which pegs me as a having a conservative hermeneutic.

The strength of this view is its emphasis on the authority, ongoing and normative authority, of all of Scripture. It tends to operate with the line many of us learned in Sunday school: “If the Bible says it, that settles it.” Such persons let the Bible challenge them with full force. Literal readings lead to rather literal applications.

I found some of the questions to be difficult to answer, because I wanted more choices. For example, I believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, but also believe it must be read in the cultural context in which it was written. In at least one instance, I was forced to choose one or the other.

Take the test, then come back and tell us how you scored, and if you believe it was accurate.

15 Responses to How Do You Interpret the Bible?

  1. Zacattack says:

    Hey guess what? I’m a conservative! who would have thought? I guess that makes us friends Jim. Awesome! When can you, me and Obama get together and have some Starbucks?

    I scored a 48. I thought it was pretty accurate. I really didn’t like the questions though.

  2. Pablo Honey says:

    I found the same dilemma as you Jim, found the answers to not quite match my beliefs. All in all pretty accurate though, put me at a 45.

  3. RubeRad says:

    I’m not even done with the quiz, and I already think it’s useless.

  4. RubeRad says:

    I finished it, and the page it brought me to is blank. Oh well. I guess my score was too high for the computer to be able to calculate it. Why does that always happen to me?

  5. Pablo Honey says:

    Same thing happened to me Rube, I went back, reloaded, and it worked.

  6. danielbalc says:

    I scored a 45. I’m bothered by tis because my favorite number is 44 and I wish I would’ve gotten that instead.

  7. K_Ho says:

    Man, I turned up a conservative (44) just like you guys! And I always thought of myself as a radical!!!

  8. SecondhandLion says:

    29 ? hmmm … Well, the first rule of Hermeneutics does say, “If the plain sense, makes sense, don’t try to wrestle with it!” The guy who wrote it has issues … lol I’d love to hear him arguing with his wife!

  9. Echo_ohcE says:


    “The moderate hermeneutic might be seen as the voice of reason and open-mindedness.”

    Hahahaha…I think it was a fundamentalist that wrote the test, who can only see Christians on a scale of liberal on the one hand, and fundamentalist on the other.

    For example, if you don’t think Christians should call Sunday the Sabbath, you apparently have a moderate stance on scripture, your argument can only be made from history. Never mind that some of us believe that Scripture itself supports a Sunday Sabbath.

    Oh well. Not very accurate, but I’m not entirely displeased with the results.

    Or for another example, if you don’t think Christians need to worry about eating the blood with the meat, then you apparently don’t interpret the Bible literally.

    But this isn’t true. I have a good reason, supported I think by Scripture, for why a Christian who is no longer under the ceremonial Mosaic laws (like the prohibition against eating/drinking blood) need not worry about them. That’s not to say that the OT doesn’t have anything to say to us today – it does. I love the OT.

    I mean think about it. Why did God prohibit the Israelites from drinking blood? “The blood is the life” it says. Fast forward to the NT, where Jesus passes his disciples the cup and says, “This is my blood of the NEW covenant, which is shed for the forgiveness of sins.” WOW, that was pregnant with meaning for Israelites who were forbidden for 1500 years from drinking blood!

    So the quiz is poorly written by someone who doesn’t, in my opinion, understand the Bible very well, nor does he understand the scope of Christian thought very well.


  10. Echo_ohcE says:

    When I said, “if you don’t think Christians should call Sunday the Sabbath, you apparently have a moderate stance on scripture, your argument can only be made from history. Never mind that some of us believe that Scripture itself supports a Sunday Sabbath.”

    That should read “Saturday” in the first sentence. Sorry for any confusion.

    Anyway, my point was that a true conservative reading of Scripture doesn’t always entail a one to one correspondence between what is said in one particular passage, and how we understand it.

    For example, in Daniel, we learn of a beast that’s like a leopard. History tells us that this beast represents the empire of Alexander the Great. But Alexander wasn’t a leopard. One to one correspondence is not always how the Bible is intended to be taken.

    The tricky part is figuring out where it should and where it shouldn’t be taken literally. The text itself must govern this.


  11. Um, speaking of hermeneutics, this guy should take a course. Unbelievable. May God have mercy on the people in his church.

  12. Pablo Honey says:

    Priceless clip Jim. I don’t know what else to say. I especially love the quote “The editors of the NIV pee sitting down.” Wow! I think “You must pee sitting down” just entered my regular smack talk repertoire.

  13. danielbalc says:

    That clip was so funny I had to stand up in order to pisseth in my pants

  14. Echo_ohcE says:

    Yeah, that got sent around at the seminary. Har, har, har. What a fool.

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