Three Reasons Why People Interpret the Bible Differently
by Amy K. Hall
I was asked, “If there is a way to correctly interpret Scripture, then why do so many ‘learned’ people come away with different interpretations?” Variations of this question come up from time to time: If a god had really inspired the Bible, wouldn’t he have written it clearly enough for everyone to understand? Don’t disagreements on the meaning of the text disprove its divine origins? People can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say; doesn’t that prove there’s no one correct interpretation?
If God intended to communicate a particular meaning through the biblical authors, and if God inspired their writing, why do people interpret the Bible differently? The fault lies not with God or with the text but with us. Here are three reasons why this happens.
1) We’re sinful. Our sin keeps us from seeing things clearly. We want certain things to be true, and we close our eyes to other things we don’t want to be true. I see this happen all the time. I see people’s ability to reason go down in proportion to how strongly they’re resisting God and His authority over their lives, and Romans 1 confirms this pattern.
The scary thing is, I’m certain I’ve done the same with parts of what I believe because I know I’m also a sinner. But I can’t see which of my ideas have been compromised. Because I know this happens, when I face temptations, I remind myself that I’m putting my ability to see truth in jeopardy. And I pray all the time that God will keep me from sin and humble me so that I can see and accept what He’s saying to me through the Bible…
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