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Misinterpreting Scripture (Introduction)

It’s been weighing on my heart these days to start a “series” of sorts called “Misinterpreting Scripture” (I know, clever). My goal is to take a look into various passages of the Bible that are often misinterpreted and/or mocked in order to gain more clarity on what God is actually telling us.

When people misinterpret scripture, it’s usually due to one or more of the following reasons:

– taking verses out of biblical context without knowing the big picture

– reading on the surface, rather than thinking things through and using some basic logic and common sense

– not taking into account pertinent historical or cultural information

– distorting the message by infusing the Word with our own expectations

– not knowing what the original Hebrew or Greek says (i.e., the inherent weaknesses of translation)

Motives for these failures range from simple ignorance to deliberately seeking out passages that seem outdated and outlandish today to mock the Christian faith.

The more I learn about the Bible—and there are always more layers to uncover—the more I am amazed at its depth and complexity. I know I say this a lot, but it strikes me as sheer arrogance and stupidity whenever someone thinks they’ve found some gaping theological hole through their own brilliance or “reason.” If you’re not willing to take faith in what the Bible says, at least give centuries of serious scholars some credit. People have been poring over the pages of the Bible more intensely than any other work in history. You are not so special that you’ve found something that others have not (and have already solved for the most part).

And for those who have faith in the Bible, please know that it is not as simple or straightforward as a history book or instruction manual. You must stay engaged intellectually—you cannot check your brain at the door! We are to love the Lord our God not with just our hearts but also with our minds. But most of all, we must be in tune spiritually. Without the voice of the Holy Spirit, we cannot hope to understand what God is actually trying to tell us.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. How true these words are!

  1. March 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    This is a great idea for a series…

    I’ve had in mind for several years to develop a sermon series around the same idea. I’d be interested in seeing what you come up with for the most misinterpreted verses out there…

    You can start with this one…
    “Where two or more are gathered in his name…”

    • March 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Thanks for your comment! That particular verse wasn’t on my radar, and I have a few lined up, but I will definitely check it out.

  2. christianface
    April 15, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Joe, looking forward to seeing more on this topic. Always a pleasure to read your stuff.

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