You’ve probably wondered like I have, why so many people come up with so many different interpretations for the same passages of the Bible? While there is no way to guarantee that we will all see things the same all the time, there are some basic principles of interpretation that should be submitted to by all of us.
Here’s a very important one:
The writers of the Scripture had very clear and specific reasons for writing what they wrote.
This means that they not only intended, but also expected, their readers to catch the clear point they were making. Except for the mostly rare apocalyptic passages in the Bible, there is usually no “hidden” meaning. The writers fully expected their audience to see the big point of what they were saying.
This is not difficult to grasp. It’s basically how we approach just about everything we read…except the Bible. And this is problematic!
Yes, the problem comes when people approach the Biblical texts and do not begin with the idea that their task is not to create a meaning, but rather to let the writer and the text tell you their meaning. Instead they (consciously or subconsciously) bring an agenda with them to the text.
It’s like a police investigator who is working with a theory of who and how a crime was committed. He’s looking everywhere for some evidence to support his working theory. Investigators will tell you that they often get into trouble when they lose their objectivity. They will force an interpretation on a piece of evidence that may in fact be erroneous.
The same happens over and over when even sincere Christians approach the Bible with their own theological agendas.
In the next couple of posts I will show you some clear examples of this error in interpretation.