This one was inspired by a little talk I had with Karl Darley between services last Sunday regarding the interpretation of the wineskin parable (Matt. 9:16-17, Luke 5:36-39, Mark 2:21-23) and why Jesus spoke it. Clearly, it’s whole meaning is well beyond its text. If you like this blog, please reply to it in kind. If you don’t care for it, talk to Carl.
As I continue to read literature, it has occurred to me that the Bible remains the greatest book I have ever come across. The themes behind many of what Western Civilization considers its greatest books are alluded to within the confines of our Bible.
With the exception of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” the Bible is the only book I know that addresses itself from time-to-time. The Bible claims by the “Word of God” (Gen. 1:3, Ps. 33:6, Heb. 1:3) reality was created, that He can speak to us in written form (Ex. 31:18, Deut. 31:9-13, Josh. 24:26, 1 Cor. 14:37, 2 Pet. 3:2), and claims to be inspired and authoritative (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 3:16).
I’m also confident that the authors of many of our hymns, creeds, confessionals, and prayers are also inspired; at the very least God’s opinions do not substantial differ from theirs. This is simply a feeling I have. The question is, how do we interpret what we read and witness?
It needs to be pointed out that Islam has far fewer interpretation issues over their book, The Koran. Nearly all Muslims fall into two branches. The main reason for this is they believe Allah told Muhammad what to write over a 23-year period, thus creating The Koran.
With our Bible, we have God’s Spirit motivating individuals to write. This moving of the Spirit is the starting point for the diversity/denominations that are apparent within Judaism and Christianity. Obviously, the efficacy of this mode of communications is variable, depending on the situation.
In one case we have the dictation of Allah, in the other we have the subtle urging of God through His Spirit. I’ll let you decide which is a more reasonable belief.
For myself, I prefer “both/and” to “either/or” understandings of Scripture in most cases. If Mark Twain’s books can have many, all valid, interpretations; God’s Word can too. Individual passages can be considered from a grammatical, historical/cultural, Patristic, contextual, theological, traditional, allegorical, metaphorical, figurative language, and personnel point of view. I understand that considering each of these when composing a sermon on a piece of Scripture would make Sunday morning worship intolerably long to the dismay of congregations from coast-to-coast; nevertheless they exist.
Who am I to judge rightly on what the Bible means in its entirety? The Bible must be approached with humility. I have great difficulty condemning any denomination for their Scripture substantiated beliefs. Actually, the diversity of opinion on our Bible is an safeguard to Christianity. If a particular church has a very wrong opinions on what God, through the Bible is trying to say it will, over a period of time, quite naturally diminish.