9. Tradition, philosophy, and experience have shaped our views of things, and situations and we must be careful not to force them into the text or situation. As such, outside sources can be helpful to clarify what is in the text. They can help us to see our own biases.

When we come to the Scriptures we usually do not come alone. We have years of life experience and probably Christian tradition coming with us. Philosophy is a good thing to have come with us unless we use it to philosophize away the text. Or if we use it to make the text fit into something it does not fit into.

When we allow our experiences to guide us through our study of Scripture we will not properly apply the text. It can become our tool to make us feel better rather than the tool to teach and correct us. Now, this does not mean we completely abandon our experiences. No, we have them but we do not make Scripture fit our experience. We allow our experience to be shaped by Scripture. If what we feel is contrary to Scripture, we change what we feel, not change Scripture.

Through philosophy, we reason and make logical assessments of what we read. But we must never allow our philosophy to be above Scripture. Our reason and logic if it is self-centered for more knowledge can lead us astray. It can make us place our wisdom above Scripture. We need to use logic and reason to understand but we must never allow it to be above Scripture.

Tradition can be good also. It can help us to make sure we are not going off into no man’s land with an interpretation. But we must never allow tradition to be above Scripture. Just because it is tradition does not make it right. It can be wrong. If it does not align with the text of Scripture it is wrong regardless of what the tradition is.

With all this said, outside sources can be helpful. I am not saying trash everything that is not Scripture but to use it with caution. We see the authors of Scripture using outside sources to strengthen arguments or solidify points so the recipients of their writings would understand. A couple of examples are Paul quoting some Athenian poets and stoics at his Mars Hill address (Acts 17:28). He also quoted the Cretans about how the Cretans were (Titus 1:12-13). We see Jude quoting apocryphal material when he talked about Enoch writing about the Lord coming with His holy ones to execute judgment (Jude 14-15). Also when he wrote about Michael contending with the devil about the body of Moses and how he did not even pronounce a blasphemous judgment against him as many blaspheme things they do not even know now (Jude 9-10).

It seems to be that Scripture approves the use of outside sources. Outside sources can be used in understanding Scripture one just must not allow it to control what Scripture means. It is a tool as many things are, but we must remember Scripture is our authority all other things are tools for us to interpret it.