GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours
All it takes to discover how differently two people interpret the same Bible is a conversation over a cup of coffee. Honest disciples of Jesus actually hold different opinions when it comes to an encounter with Holy Scripture.
The Bible is inspired by God. It is interpreted by flawed humans.
I would think it to be apparent that when it comes to the Bible—one size doesn’t all.
Some believe silence within the Bible equates to license while fellow disciples are sure silence prohibits anything not specifically addressed in the sixty-six Biblical books and letters. Both groups draw their conclusions from their Bibles.
I find in my Bible support of the death penalty while others read Scripture as teaching the exact opposite.
One is a committed pacifist yet another believes in justifiable war. Both views are drawn from Scripture.
Recently, while doing some spring cleaning I came across a ten-year old aerial photo of a small section of Sao Paulo the thirty-plus million populated city of Brazil. The picture was captured at such an elevated altitude that the thousands of skyscrapers appear as no more than little stacks of legos.
From this lofty point of view the essence of the city is missed. The texture of buildings, streets, parks, people and culture is not apparent. What is core to the city is absent.
The richness of the city that comes in its diversity is missing from the picture. The aerial snapshot completely failed to share the down-on-the-street view.
Like an “on-the-street” view of the city I see my Bible as rich in texture.
Texture is purposefully reflective of a God who majors in layer upon layer of richness and variety. Both gush from His creative nature.
I cannot read my Bible without the backdrop of inventive diversity that flows from Creator God.
The God of creation ties Himself tightly together with variety as the common thread to make Holy art from the diverse.
Each created one is unique and different from all others. Of the seven billion residents on planet earth no two people are alike. Yet God links us diverse ones together with Him—and each other—by His Spirit.
To speak to a diverse people God left a diverse Bible.
The text is so rich I can never claim to have mined it to its deepest depth.
Due to the one of a kind design of each person created by God the richness and the texture of the Bible ministers to every individual at just the right point of need.
In a time of trial, I may see for the first time an interpretation of a certain verse or a particular section from my Bible that specifically fills my soul. In turn, another person may read the same verses hundreds of time over a lifetime and never encounter the exact same fit that so ably fit me.
Any person whose face is turned toward God, Son and Spirit finds relevance within Scripture that is perfectly aligned to fit a unique situation.
The result provides growth and care at a time of need.
It seems to me the God who created diversity designed a rich Biblical text that not only allows but demands diverse interpretations to meet His ultimate objective—to form His creatures into His image.
I would say, diverse interpretations of the Bible are not only legal but a fact of reality. What do you think? What would you add to this reflection?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Are Diverse Interpretations of the Bible Legal?