Theology is called the Queen of the Sciences. Why? Because Scientific method is a subset of Theological Method. If you give it a minutes thought it makes sense. Some of the best known early scientists, Pascal, Newton, were believers. They studied the world with the theological tools they developed. Most higher education included Theology.
The Purpose of Method
Theological method is intended to help us do what Paul exhorted Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:15, handle accurately the Word of Truth. One of the first steps in the process is to acknowledge one’s presuppositions, what one thinks one already knows and believes about an issue. The reason for this is to allow the data, the Word, to speak to the issue without our bending it to support our pet positions.
Critical Starting Point
This is a critically important step in our approach to the Bible. I am always gratified when I find excellent explanations of why this is important, not just in our approach to the Word, but also in Theology’s offspring Scientific method.
Claude Bernard was a French physiologist, he wrote this about the impediment of our preconceived ideas in 1865:
Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim…But it happens further quite naturally that men who believe too firmly in their theories, do not believe enough in the theories of others. So the dominant idea of these despisers of their fellows is to find others’ theories faulty and to try to contradict them. The difficulty, for science, is still the same.Clear Your Mind to Observe Well
The key to good Bible study is great observation. Bernard masterfully points out why we need to continually question and examine what we hold to be true. If we do not, we are in danger of falling into the trap he describes. In Science that results in error. A problem, but not, in the grand scheme of things, overwhelming. But in the Bible, the result is heresy. Heresy has eternal consequences.
When you go to your study, acknowledge your presuppositions. Allow the Bible to realign them. Do not force the Bible to say what you want it to say.