BIBLE, interpretation of
We cannot arrive at a true understanding of God's Word by detaching texts from their
contexts to find personal meaning in them and be feeding them into the world of our
private preoccupations and letting that world impose new senses on old phrases.
A theological student whom later I knew as a senior friend had committed himself to
starting his ministry in the north of England when he received a very attractive
invitation to join a teaching institution in South Wales instead. He did not feel able to
withdraw from his commitments, but one day he read in Isaiah 43:6 (Authorized Version),
"I will say to the north, Give up", and concluded that this was God telling him
that he would be providentially released from his promise and so set free to accept the
second invitation. No such thing happened, however, so he went north after all wondering
what had gone wrong. Then he reread Isaiah 43:6 and noticed that it continued,
"...and to the south, Do not withhold." At this point it dawned on him that he
had been finding meaning in the text that was never really there. Instead, the concerns
which he brought to his reading of the text had governed his interpretation of it.
To impose meaning on the text is not the way to learn God's Law. Yet we constantly do
this (don't we?), and it is one chronic obstacle to understanding.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers,
At the height of her fame as the other woman in the Ivana and Donald Trump breakup,
Marla Maples spoke of her religious roots. She believed in the Bible, she told
interviewers, then added the disclaimer, "but you can't always take [it] literally
and be happy."
C. Colson, The Body, p. 124.
A bishop of a century ago pronounced from his pulpit and in the periodical he edited
that heavier-than-air flight was both impossible and contrary to the will of God. Oh, the
irony that Bishop Wright had two sons, Orville and Wilbur! Wright was wrong. Sure of
himself, but wrong.
Robert P. Dugan, Jr., Winning the New Civil War,
A professional boxer was converted to Christ. He felt it was wrong to continue hitting
people but only knew boxing as a profession. So he sought counsel of the deacons. One
responded, "Don't see why you can't continue. Bible says that it's better to give
than to receive."