Bad Bible Interpretation Really Can Hurt People
On June 11, 2019, Dr. Michael Heiser posted on the Logos Talk blog an article entitled “Bad Bible Interpretation Really Can Hurt People.”
(https://blog.logos.com/2019/06/bad-bible-interpretation-really-can-hurt-people/#comments). If you have the chance, you should read his article.
He expresses my overarching goal in teaching the Bible that:
Anyone who teaches the Word of God wants people excited about exploring Scripture. Ultimately, you want to turn listeners into competent students so that they can teach others.
Dr. Heiser’s specific example of bad Bible interpretation is racism. He writes that harmful Bible interpretations are usually carried out through “professionals”:
But some Bible interpretation is truly damaging—and on a wide scale. For that sort of harm, you needed professionals—people who are supposed to know better because they have degrees or are in positions of spiritual leadership.
His example demonstrates that Bible “professionals” are not always right. Bad interpretations by professionals do not lead to any good:
Unfortunately, a lot of poor thinking about Scripture has been published for popular consumption in the Church—and consumed it is.
The fact that wrong Bible interpretation exists in the American church strengthens the argument that all believers must learn how to study the Bible for themselves. Believers must be able to discern between truth and error, no matter who teaches. While I have a presumption of trust with Bible teachers like John MacArthur, John Piper, Kay Arthur, Bill Mounce, and others, I still must possess the ability to study on my own. Even the best Bible teachers may not always be right.
Dr, Heiser is correct when he concludes that we need to get serious:
So yes, sometimes bad Bible interpretation is truly destructive—with effects lasting generations. This is yet another illustration why we need to get serious about interpreting the Bible in its own context, not against the backdrop of our own modern questions.
One final thought from Steve. Bad Bible interpretation can easily happen when doing Bible study in isolation. While it is important to know how to study the Bible, it is just as essential to bring your interpretations into a community of other Bible students to make sure you haven’t “gone off the rails.” One community of other Bible students comprises commentaries written by conservative evangelical commentators. Also, you may want to take a look at an article (March 19, 2019) on Logos Talk by Mark Ward entitled “3 Sanity Checks for Odd Bible Interpretations” (https://blog.logos.com/2019/03/three-sanity-checks-for-odd-bible-interpretations/) .
I sum up my approach to Bible study in the ABOUT section of this blog:
For this blog, the preferred approach to Bible study is through the inductive Bible study method, which comprises the steps of observation, interpretation, and application of the text to the 21st Century. The content of this blog will try to stay within the parameters of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978), the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982), and the Chicago Statement of Biblical Application (1986).
If anyone wants a copy of any one or more of the Chicago Statements, I would be pleased to e-mail them to you. FYI, they are readily available on the internet.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to use the “Comments” feature or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.