“Free-for-all” interpretation

“How can you say?  How do you know that THAT’s what it means?”  Is an accusation I’ve come across countless times.  A passage of scripture is read, and right away everyone who hears it either:

1) Has no clue what was just read,

2) Has a vague idea of what the author might have been saying, almost able to interpret,

3) The passage is interpreted, in other words, the listener has digested the words read, and has concluded with an interpretation of what was read, a way to apply the scripture.

The next question is, are all ways valid ways of interpreting the scripture?  Absolutely not!  There is such a thing as “authorial intent”.  The writer had a reason to write it.  He had an idea to convey, in a certain way, to a certain audience.  We interpret and digest literature of all genres this way.  Let me make an analogy of what is happening to rules of interpretation now-a-days, and curiously, rules that are loosened mainly in the realm of religious writ.

There is a person standing by a stairwell, one standing by an elevator, and one standing in his home with a blunt.  Yes, I said blunt, aka he is about to get high on marijuana.  None of them know me.  I call all of them and say, “I’m going up high, see ya!”  Instantly they think and interpret what I say in terms of what they know.  The man by the stairwell things, “Well he must mean he is about climb some very high stairs.”  The person near the elevator ponders, “He must be on an elevator that goes up a sky-scraper.”  And finally the hippy with the blunt concludes simply, “Dude, he is about to take a drag…aawwwesome!”


Since they don’t know me, they interpret a wrong conclusion.  I was actually at the foot of a mountain (those who know me would know this is probably what I meant, as the avid outdoorsmen I am).  So relativism and post-modernism has wooed the common mind to think like this about the person Jesus Christ.  “He was a good man.”  “Jesus was just a man, in fact he had sexual relations with Mary Magdalene.”  “Jesus never existed, Paul is the father of Christianity and made him up.”


The gospel writers always had an authorial intent.  To write a historical account of a God-man who existed to seek and save the lost, 2,000 years ago, about whom even secular historians give an account of.


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