Can The Bible Mean Different Things To Different People?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

IDEA: Differences in interpretation come because of the differences in the interpreters.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand why sincere people disagree about interpretation.

There are different interpretations of the Bible that have sometimes caused Christians to divide. How do you explain them?

Even if people follow the rules we’ve been talking about, they don’t necessarily agree about things like the Second Coming, the place of women in the church, or eternal security. There are different interpretations because there are different interpreters.

Why are we different?

I. We are all finite and greatly limited:

We see through a glass darkly.

C. S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, said: “Only five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them—never became conscious of them at all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?” (p. 51)

II. We are fallen:

George Salmon, in Infallibility of the Church, wrote: “It is to be expected that the Holy Spirit should not completely clear from error the minds of those whose hearts He does not completely clear from sin.” (p. 285)

Humility does not come from the intellect, but from God. “Knowledge [even of the Bible] puffs up.”

III. We’re conditioned:

A research psychologist placed two different pictures in a stereoscope. The left eye was a bullfighter; the right eye a baseball player. Then he asked some Mexicans and some Americans to peer through the instrument. Most of the Mexicans saw the bull-fighter; most of the Americans saw the baseball player. (From McQuilken, Understanding and Applying the Bible, p. 228.) What we are determines what we see.