In order to interpret the Scriptures properly, one must come to the text with some foundational beliefs. These foundational beliefs, or presuppositions, can be defined as “a set of underlying assumptions.” These assumptions are the lens through which you see the Bible and necessarily shade your understanding and influence how you interpret everything seen under the lens.
Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard list six foundational beliefs that they deem necessary for a proper understanding of Scripture to be possible. First, the Scriptures must be seen as a divine revelation from God Himself. Second, this inspired revelation must therefore deemed to be authoritative and true. Third, the Bible is a spiritual document meaning it is the avenue through which the Holy Spirit works. Fourth, both unity and diversity must be seen throughout its pages. While there is a unity that holds these books together, the fact that there are 66 individual books that differ in size, genre and style must be taken into account. Fifth, this book is understandable and therefore ought to be understood. Finally, it is these 66 canonical books recognized by the Church Fathers and down through time that we accept as the Word of God, not any others.
There also “preunderstandings” of the Bible that must also be taken into consideration. Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard quote D.S. Ferguson’s definition of a preunderstanding, “Preunderstanding may be defined as a body of assumptions and attitudes which a person brings to the perception and interpretation of reality or any aspect of it.” In other words, this is the assumptions the interpreter has about reality through which he sees all of life.
We can test our own preunderstandings by using the truths of God’s world to evaluate our beliefs or presumptions based on reality. When it come to our faith, “We must evaluate the evidence for the Christian claims in light of all the alternative truth claims.” So we must judge even the claims we hold dear to the truths of reality and not fear the consequences. What best fits the evidence around us? In terms of Biblical interpretations, we must submit our thoughts and ideas to the truth of God’s Word.
The first step in changing or challenging preunderstandings is to recognize that we all have them and then put them to the test. In my own life, I have been taught since childhood, from both my Dad and my church, that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and therefore correct in everything it says. So, when I come to passage that may seem to contradict themselves, I tend to immediately harmonize them assuming the contradiction is only in my mind. While I do believe this assumption is Biblical, this presunderstanding does prevent me from appreciating any tension the two text might indeed have and therefore leads to superficial understandings based on my need to see harmony where there might not be.
What one has been taught shapes their reality of the world and therefore cannot help but shape their view of Scripture. The type of church one attends, denomination and quality of the preaching and teaching ministries all influence how we come to the Word of God. There are those from legalistic churches that view Scripture as a rule book to be obeyed constantly and there those from superficial churches that only dig through Scripture to find inspiration and encouragement. Each are missing crucial elements of the Bible.
How can this be overcome? To some level, we will not be able to come to the text free of all our baggage, but we can take steps to overcome it. First and first most one ought to pray for spiritual illumination before approaching any text. Second, one would be wise to seek the author’s intent of a text through grammatical and historical methods. Finally, we should challenge ourselves to branch out and read the thoughts of others outside our ecclesiastical circles. Let them challenge you and then examine each view in light of what we know about the Bible. This ought to inspire was to work hard and not to throw up our hands in despair. Fee and Stewart remind us, “The antidote to bad interpretation is not no interpretation but good interpretation, based on commonsense guidelines.”
 William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert I. Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised Edition, Revised ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 143.
 Ibid, 143-150.
 Ibid, 154
 Ibid, 163.
 Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition, 3 ed. (MI: Zondervan, 2014), 21.