The Buddy Wallace Theory of Biblical Interpretation

Buddy Wallace was my grandfather, my mother’s father. He loved God and loved his church. When he died, he had been bedridden and uncommunicative for two years. At the funeral, the building was completely full with people standing in all the aisles. He was that kind of man. He taught me so much about biblical interpretation.

My grandfather was not privileged to have much of an education. He certainly was not privileged to read Hebrew and Greek, but he read the Bible and understood its relevance for his life. I often use him as an example for biblical interpretation.

When interpreters seem to be too cute with the Scripture, I often ask: “would Buddy Wallace have seen this in the Scripture? If the answer is “no,” I look again at how the passage is interpreted. This is what I mean by the Buddy Wallace test.

What can we learn from godly people who humbly seek God’s guidance for their lives?

First, God gave the Bible to be understood. It does not contain hidden or secretive material which only a few people can find or understand. God did not hide secret words in the biblical message which were meant to be discovered hundreds of years later. The prophets spoke God words to real people, people who understood the message.

Second, read the Bible like you do the newspaper or blog post. Let the context help you understand the general theme and the major emphases. When we read the newspaper, the context gives us the general idea. From the general idea, we can understand specifics.

Third, ask God to help you understand the meaning. The Holy Spirit gives light to God’s Word. This is what my grandfather understood and many contemporary Christians do not. Since God wants you to understand, ask for His enlightenment. God desires for you to understand and apply His Word.

Finally, ask God what He wants you to do as a result of your reading and meditation. It is not enough to simply read. We must apply what we read to our lives.

If you find this post helpful, you may want to read Moving From the Known To The Unknown as well.

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One Comment


  1. Ed Matthew
    May 30, 2012

    My Dad and your Grandfather are making a great team in Praise, as they did in life. I understood from people in the hospital who came that they rarely if ever get personally involved with their patient.

    Thanks for Honoring their message from the Lord and mine to His People which are Called by His Name.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. — 1 John 4:16 (NIV)