Someone well known in the Apologetics world recently “came out” on a certain theological/doctrinal issue that he had previously been hesitant to comment on. For a long time I had admired this person’s scope of Biblical knowledge, their ability to communicate Biblical truths in a brief understandable manner, and their seeming gift of alliteration. However, when I heard what they had concluded what the Bible said in this particular area, frankly, I was surprised.
So I decided to do my own homework on the issue. I knew what I believed about it. I knew why I believed what I believed about it, or so I thought. I started to research this persons view on this topic. I read the arguments. I read the evidence. I read the interpretation of the evidence. And there it was, the interpretation.
The manuscripts upon with the Bible is based have been passed down to us in such a manner that they are believed by those in the know to be over 99.5% accurate to the originals. The variations that make up the 0.5% are primarily spelling differences in personal and geographical names, other spelling variations, and minor word conjugation. Otherwise, what was written down thousands of years ago is basically what we have today. Now we get into translation issues. We take the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts and translate them into the desired language. In the English language there have been (and are currently) dozens of translations. Some try to stay as true to the original source language as possible, others try to translate in such a way that the modern 21st century English-reader doesn’t have to think too much. The translation you get can effect interpretation.
English can be a very imprecise language. The meaning of many words depends on their context, both in a literary context and a social context. If I were to say “I’m blue” many people would understand that I mean I feel sad. If I said it while in a school play and I had the part of the sky, I would mean that I was literally blue. When we read the translation of the Bible we have in front of us we have to interpret what we are reading in much the same way. Who was this written to? What were the circumstances? What was life like for those people at that time? These questions help us better interpret what is being written.
As I said earlier, I read the passages used to defend this particular theological position, I read their interpretation of these passages, and I have to say that I disagree with their interpretations. What is being said is pretty clear and obvious. It can only mean what this person (and others who believe the same way) if you come at the passage(s) with a certain perspective already in mind. If you let the passage(s) speak for itself, it doesn’t say what they say it says. See what I’m saying?
The reason I have not specified who I’m talking about or what this theological point is is because it doesn’t really mater. Its one of those “in-house debates” that ought not to separate Bible believing Christians. Its like one person believing that Adam has a belly-button and another person believing that he did not. Its not worth fighting over! (By the way, Adam did NOT have a belly-button.)
Just read your Bible. Pray as you read. Ask God to speak to you about your life and how you can better server Him, love Him, and share His love with others.