Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Counts as an Interpretation?

Interpretation brings out the meaning of something. There has to be some original being interpreted and some level of faithfulness to represent that original. When interpreting the bible, you have to know what the bible says and try to represent what it says. Now bad interpretations are still interpretations. Much leeway can be given for those who are not experienced in the word of truth (Hebrews 5:14). A child might interpret scripture badly, but they are still interpreting scripture, so long as they are trying to represent what they read. But if someone simply disagrees with scripture, they are not interpreting scripture. For example, if someone “rationalizes” a biblical account of a miracle, they are not interpreting scripture.

Because intent is involved, sometimes it’s hard to say if someone is interpreting the bible or not. For example, I recently read a homosexual argue Paul, in Romans 1:26-27, does not condemn all homosexual activity. When someone challenged this, the person didn’t defend their previous comments, but rather said “why do you believe what shepherds thought 2,000 years ago, you say the bible is inspired, but I believe in the inspired words of Satan”. OK, it’s clear that person isn’t interpreting the bible – they are not interested in what the bible means. But if they spoken out against the bible, it would have been harder to tell the difference between a bad interpretation and statements that don’t even qualify as interpretation.

Perhaps this person was simply rehashing someone else’s comments on Romans 1:26-27. In that case, while it’s clear they are not interpreting scripture, perhaps someone else did. And that may be true, but someone else’s interpretation doesn't become your own, unless you follow their logic and agree with their conclusions. And so while a large group holds to a certain interpretation of a passage, it may be that a great number within the group are not interpreting that passage at all.  So sometime a really bad interpretation gains credibility because of the number of supporters – but that’s not necessarily an argument in favor of the reasonableness of the interpretation.

1 comment:

Gary said...
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