“Because the Bible says so.” Okay, but whose interpretation? Yours? Mine? From the era of the Crusades? When they were burning people at the stake? When it was used to support slavery? What if we have different conclusions? What if we’re both wrong?
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Published by JS Park
J.S. Park is a hospital chaplain, author, sixth degree black belt, ex-atheist, Korean-American, and follows Christ.
J.S. has a B.A. in Psychology from USF and a Master's from SEBTS. He lives with his wife, dog, and daughter in sunny Florida.
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2 thoughts on “Whose Interpretation Is It, Anyway?”
The goal seems to be *our* interpretation (1 Peter 3:8, Philippians 2:2, Romans 15:6, etc…) Being loving and gracious with others is related to the topic of being of one mind in scripture.
In the flesh, we tend to go one of two ways. We either reject the idea of truth outright, paint everything gray, and avoid having to deal with different point of views all together, or we decide that we have got the truth nailed down to the point that anyone who disagrees is just hopeless and we needn’t treat them with respect.
Neither one of those is at all loving (though the first [apathy] gets miscategorized that way often enough). Both are ultimately rooted in a selfish desire to be our own authority.
I was asked by a friend on how we can move forward on this. My response:
I’m not entirely sure about a catch-all answer of what to do, but I think I’m becoming sure of what NOT to do.
It would be unwise to cherrypick one or two verses to justify a position. It would be harmful to use the Bible as a political sledgehammer. It shouldn’t be used as a dichotomous gatekeeper of “You’re in or you’re out.” We shouldn’t get too hung up on tertiary matters that only Bible scholars would argue about. We certainly shouldn’t think ourselves superior because “my interpretation is the right one.” And of course, if an interpretation leads to the harm of others, I’m out.
I get tired of the attitude of some Christians who have “secret insider knowledge” and that everyone else is limping behind until they magically get enlightened. I’m including myself in that; I can easily get snobby when I disagree, and you can see that in my previous sentence.
I remember reading a political textbook in seminary that began with something like, “This book assumes our goal is to love God and to love people. You can disagree with the rest of the book but still love God and love people.” I think the main thing is to keep that the main thing.
If anything, we should question our own interpretations the most and always assume that we’re thinking within a chronological land-lock. We can only hope to get as close to the truth as possible, and that starts by questioning our subjective approach.