I received a call Tuesday afternoon. One Christian woman called on behalf of herself and another Christian woman — one in her 20s, one not in her 20s. Speaker phone engaged.
They had a theological question in preparation for a women’s Bible study. The Bible study materials being used including an interpretation my callers found odd.
They conveyed the details. I gave my perspective.
The long and short of my view was that I did not agree with everything the study writer said, but I could see how she (the writer) came to such a view based on Scripture. The Bible doesn’t say the same thing the writer said, but she may be correct in what it means, even though I don’t think so.
We do this all the time. We read Scripture and seek to interpret it. Whenever we move from quoting Scripture to “explaining” it, we have moved into interpretation. This is the stock and trade of every pastor and Bible study leader. A problem arises when we confuse interpretation with what Scripture actually says.
Lots of us take the Bible’s words seriously, but we should be a lot more humble about our interpretations of what it means.
Christians were once convinced the sun circled the earth because of what they read in the Bible. Mind you, the Bible never said such a thing; people interpreted what it said as meaning that. They interpreted wrongly. Just like the folks in the Bible, when I say the sun is going to rise in the east and set in the west, I don’t mean the sun is circling the earth, but someone who did not know better might misunderstand me and misinterpret my words.
Let’s face it, we are not God. There are lots of things we do not know. And since that is the case, it seems a heavy dose of humility might be in order regarding our interpretations.
When the Bible study writer cited above (a woman) and I get to Heaven someday, assuming God lets us both in and we still care about such details, one of us will find out he/she was wrong and one will discover she/he was right. I hope the one who was right will not gloat; there should be no gloating in Heaven.
A little bit of Heaven is needed for our redeemed relationships now. As we try to understand Scripture and apply it, it’s good to also leave room in our theology to know we might be mistaken.
Again, none of us are God. The one Holy Spirit is working to help us know truth, but it’s pretty obvious we are not “listening” very well because we Christ followers come up with lots of different interpretations of the same Bible verses.
Humility! We need more humility regarding our interpretations of Scriptures.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15, CSB).