About the author


Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


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    Many thanks Jason, this is an excellent piece.

    I think many of the arguments over “methodology”, particularly over what is “descriptive” and what is “normative” can and ought to be be resolved via the exercise of a sound hermeneutic. Perhaps many of the problems you identify with modern fundamentalism go back to just this – bad hermeneutics.

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    Interesting. Just a couple of comments.

    I have not seen that framework for understanding the Bible before. My own understanding of Scripture is that theology or doctrine is followed by application of that doctrine.

    Methodology is Application. Many times in Scripture, the application comes via cultural vehicles, e.g. meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians. But the principle can be applied outside that cultural vehicle.

    I think this is what is happening in the book of Acts, particularly Paul’s missionary journeys. Most Fundamentalists I think would not generally take Acts to be normative, indeed the fact that it isn’t normative is one of our great arguments against the Charismatic movement. The same goes Old Testament narrative and the gospels.

    Also, our methodology or application is always limited by other doctrines. For instance, in evangelism, we are limited to evangelising the lost by using methods that don’t render our testimony void or cause weaker brethren to stumble. Therefore it is wrong to have a Christian dance party, with alcohol, in order to win the lost. So our methodology is always limited in some way.

    Given that most Independent Baptists are Dispensational in their theology, I have a hard time understanding how you can say that most Fundamentalist preaching assumes Biblical narrative to be normative.

    Thanks for posting that.

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    Jason Harris


    I agree PJ. I would love to see hermeneutics become a standard Bible course at every Christian college (regardless of what degree the student is pursuing). I believe one major uni just recently put this practice in place.


    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I agree that the theology/application framework is very helpful. John Vaughn outlined exegesis like this:

    1. What does it say?
    2. What does it mean?
    3. What do I need to do about it?

    Perhaps it could be summarised as:

    Translation What the Bible says

    Interpretation What the Bible means

    Application What we’re supposed to do with it

    Perhaps this warrants its own post to tie these two models together, but in the translation/interpretation/application model, the translation might be teaching in any one of the three levels I outlined in this post (theology, philosophy, methodology).

    I think the value of the model in this post is that it highlights the fact that each level needs to be treated differently.

    1) If the text is addressing theology, then we can use that to develop a philosophy and methodology.

    2) If the text is addressing philosophy, then we may need to try to discern the theology behind it. This may be crucial to making good methodological extension.

    3) If the text is addressing methodology (such as how to handle meat offered to idols or a command to be thankful), then we need to seek to understand the philosophy and theology behind that methodology if we’re going to properly understand and teach that portion of the text. I suspect this would help us to have a better understanding of why we do what we do, and ultimately to trace every portion of Scripture back to the Theos (God) of theology.

    The reason I suggested that IB preaching tends to take narratives as normative is because many IBs believe that the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture tells us how to handle… well, just about everything. This reveals itself in preaching on Old Testament passages where a simple story about a prophet is expanded to give insight on everything and anything.

    Many IBs have a “biblical” reason for almost everything they do from budgeting and organising to dating and mental health. Of course at times Scripture does address elements of these issues, but often, the “biblical” support comes from some narrative text taken as normative.

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    Some good stuff there Jason. I think you are addressing the process that begins at exegesis and ends in the delivery of the sermon. I believe this is where many preachers fall short, some can exegete wonderfully but have trouble communicating those truths to the congregation. Others can communicate very well but are poor exegetes.

    As well as hermeneutics, our Bible colleges should be teaching the skills required to properly study the word to those who will be responsible for feeding the flock. I think the problem with some Independent Baptist churches is that the preaching is not true expository preaching but just topical sermons loosely based on Scripture. If a preacher is preaching expositorially through a book, it is almost impossible to make the gross misinterpretations and misapplications that we sometimes see in topical sermons.

    I think your framework is great and a good place to start, especially in the context of good exegesis and expository preaching.

  5. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Some great points there Steve. Thanks for challenging my thinking on that.


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