I have noticed an alarming propensity of a number of clergy to interpret Godís Word. In sermons across the country we have pastorís telling us every Sunday what God means when He says X,Y, or Z in His Word. Hereís a tip, He means X,Y, or Z.
Being a Christian writer and lay minister I talk to a lot of people about the pressing issues of our times, most often from a Christian perspective. And like me, I hope youíre aware that people of seeming like faith can read Bible passages and come away with completely different interpretations of what is actual said.
But how can people of faith not understand that Godís Word is not debatable? It is not to be interpreted. It is to be taken at face value, like it or not.
Godís Word is infallible. It was written by God through men of His choosing. It is as true today as it was 2,000 years ago. Itís as relevant today as it was then.
Only through the arrogance of modern man has that truth been called into question.
Think about it -- if the Word of God is not completely true; i.e. it needs to be ďexplainedĒ by man, then why believe in God? We have at the genesis of our relationship with God, creation. Those of true faith believe God created the heavens and earth out of nothing so we could be something. He breathed life into Adam, in the process creating mankind. He raised His dead Son to walk the earth again before He ascended into heaven. And yet if we are to judge by man interpreting the Word, Godís not smart enough to write a book that doesnít need to be explained by ďenlightenedĒ man.
Honestly, if thatís true, God is not worthy of being praised or worshiped.
But He is!
The Bible says what it means, and means what it says. It is to be taken literally. If Jonah was not swallowed by the great fish, and the ďstoryĒ is instead a metaphor, why would anyone believe the resurrection of Christ, a far more ďunbelievableĒ event.
You see what a slippery slope we ascend when we start believing, if even covertly and/or subconsciously, that Godís Word needs our help. Thatís not to say that clergy and others canít explain the Word to confused others who are babes in their faith, but in doing so we must ensure we are relating the Word and not interpreting the Word. For if we are interpreting we are putting our opinion in front of Godís undeniable truth, and thatís dangerous ground, notwithstanding our altruistic motives.
Hereís one of the main reasons I take every word in the Bible as gospel -- Iím not smart enough to pick and choose what is true and what is not. Either itís all true or every word must be challenged and eventually tossed aside. The Word must be taken as truth, as in doing so we are expressing our faith in something we cannot possibly understand. People tell me Iím reasonably intelligent, but Iím no Einstein, a fact I am far too aware. But Einstein, as smart as he was, is an ameba when compared to the Almighty, so you can imagine what that makes me. We all, no matter our intelligence, are, at best, like single cell organisms when compared to God. Thatís a fact that even Steven Hawking should remember, yet through unwarranted arrogance, he cannot.
For the rest of us, God, knowing we cannot comprehend what He knows routinely, gives us Scripture to ease our mental unrest, while at the same time testing our faith to believe what we cannot understand. ďTrust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.Ē (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV)
Man is by nature always searching for inner peace he will never find on his own. True peace only comes through a spiritual knowledge of what actually sets us free from a world that wants us in bondage to our own self-importance. And in that search, it is far too common to start questioning God when we donít like what He has to say. Put another way, when we realize God demands obedience we are not willing to give, we invent a god who will give his blessing to our willful rebellion. And a means to that end is to ďinterpretĒ Godís Word to mean whatever we say it means.
So very much harm has come to man following this dangerous path.
Then too, how insulting to God to imply that He is incapable of writing (inspiring) a book that is perfect in every way. Itís a slap in the face that suggests He isnít very smart - that without our help, His effort is difficult or impossible to understand and put into everyday use. Thank God weíre around to help Him out. What unmitigated conceit.
Lastly, when we play games with the Word, we are being disobedient to the enth degree, and we are doing so in a manner that is hazardous beyond comprehension.
ďFor I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.Ē (Revelation 22:18-19)
I wonít interpret Godís warning -- it speaks for itself.
Edward Mrkvicka is a lay minister and counselor, and life-long Bible student. His religious writings have been awarded Best Christian Book of the Year, Best Christian Study of the Year, named a National Best Book Awards finalist, and a winner in the Christian Choice Book Awards. He has also been awarded the prestigious Faith Writers Seal of Approval. His efforts on behalf of families, understanding adultery, and the devastating effect of divorce on children has earned him a United States Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. His newest book, No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery, is available at Amazon.com.
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