A Matter of Interpretation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 17, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I have lost track of how many times I have heard the phrase, “That’s your interpretation,” or some variation of it. I will say something that the Bible very clearly says in plain language and someone who does not want to believe it says, “That’s your interpretation,” or “That’s your opinion.”

I am the kind of person that puts the Bible in the place where God puts it: as the highest authority and the primary tangible source of information that provides the framework on how to analyze anything and everything. I have written extensively about worldviews here and how they answer five key questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Who am I? Where am I going? Who do I listen to? A Biblical worldview uses the Bible as the source to answer each of these questions, and uses the Bible to filter what any other input has to say on any issues.

The Biblical worldview also reveals God’s worldview because the Bible tells us how God sees us and everything around us. God would answer these questions about himself differently than he does about us, but he would use the same reference for how to answer them: the Bible, his revealed Word in text form. If the Bible is indeed God’s Word, as it clearly claims in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21, then because God cannot lie, we can conclude that the Bible contains no lies.

Though if the Bible has no lies and is inerrant, then does one interpretation or understanding of what the text says have the same or equal weight as another? I often defend Biblical authority regarding origins and I take the plain language understanding of Genesis, leading to what we know today as the young earth creation model. But when I say, “This is what the Bible says” or I speak of the Bible as having authority, it is often quickly dismissed as being “my interpretation.” Often young earth creation is mocked as being “a particular interpretation,” as though there are others we do not consider. But is this so?

I get asked from the old earth creation crowd often, “Could God have used evolution? Why aren’t you considering other options?” Well, let’s examine these claims. Could God have used millions of years? Yeah, sure. He’s powerful enough. But the real question is not “Could he?” The real question is “Did he?” Take notice of everyone who suggests, “There are other interpretations to consider.” “That’s not how other people see it.” “Could God…?” I cannot think of any person who has offered these statements or a variation of them actually consider the plain language reading of the text. But it gets worse than this.

Most of the interpretations I have heard regarding Scripture that do not take the plain meaning of the text tend to take a meaning that is completely opposite of what it actually says. This is not just in the creation issue. When God said “in six days” he meant very clearly “in six days.” He did not mean “long, undefined periods of time.” Those who seek to make it a matter of “interpretation” pick a very obscure definition that maybe fits the predetermined model they have. Can the word “day” mean “period of time”? Yeah. But when it does it means a very specific time period when a significant thing in history happens. It never means what old earth creationist try to make it mean.

I also see it in the homosexual discussion as well. The Bible very clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, but now people (not just Matthew Vines, whom I addressed in December and January) are saying, “The Bible was not talking about the loving, committed relationships. Just the lustful ones.” Really? Since when did the perception of love and commitment change what is sin or not?

When you reduce the Bible to “It’s your interpretation,” you end up with what I described a few weeks ago with being “above Scripture.” The whole idea is to reduce the Bible into something that you can make whatever you want out of it. In this mentality, you do not submit to the Bible, the Bible submits to you – to your reasoning, to your intellect, to your wishes.

Yet, that is not what the Bible is made to do. The Bible was written to reveal what God says about any issue. The Bible reveals God’s worldview and it exposes us for what we are: lost sinners in rebellion against God and in need of a Savior. If there is a question or a problem, where is the flaw – in us or in God? Those who question the authority of Scripture never seem to consider that they don’t have the answers. They never seem to consider that God might. Why? I think it is because they know what God has to say about it and that would require them to humble themselves. Pride is a very dangerous thing. That is why God abominates it.

It is prideful to say “This is what the Bible says”? No it is not. It is not arrogant to take God at his word, believe it, and proclaim it. But it is prideful to think that you might know more than God, that while God may mean well, he might need “your” help to get his message across. It is arrogant to think that with all our scientific advancements that we have surpassed God’s knowledge and records of history. Keep in mind that most of those I am talking about here are those who claim to be Christians. The ones that are not do not try to interpret the Bible a particular way to support their flesh; they just dismiss it outright.

The whole tactic here is to remove the Bible from having a position of authority. Yet this exactly what Moses dealt with in Numbers 16-17. Korah, Dathan, and Abriam asked the same question: “Who put you in charge? Why is your interpretation correct? We have access to God just as much as you do.” What happened? God smote them. The earth swallowed them alive and then closed up after them. What immediately followed was God established his Word through Moses by making Aaron’s rod blossom.

There is only one true and correct interpretation of Scripture: that which God has. But he gave us the tools we need to arrive at his interpretation: the rest of Scripture. The best way to understand Scripture is to interpret it in light of the whole of Scripture and look at the big picture. Look at Jesus as the centerpiece. All Scripture is there to reveal Jesus. Make him your focal point. And remember, the spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If someone cannot see the spiritual side of it, then consider they may be using their carnal minds. They will not see the truth, nor consider it to be an option, because they are working out of their own mind and not seeking God’s. Yet we have access to the mind of Christ. When we seek that, the correct interpretation of Scripture becomes quite clear. Let us put ourselves below Scripture, where God tells us what he meant and let us not try to outguess God. It is not a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of where God has the final say or not.

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