Thursday, July 26, 2007

True or False: People can make the Bible say whatever they want.

I remember having a discussion with someone and presenting that person with biblical evidence for a biblical doctrine. The person’s objection to my argument was, “You can’t use the Bible to prove your point of view because people can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say.” Now, at the time, I didn’t actually say all of this, but here is what I might have said.

1. So, what you really mean is the opposite of what you just said. “NO ONE can make the Bible say anything other than what it says." Why do I say that? Because the presupposition underlying the notion that a person can make the Bible say whatever he wants it to say is that language can be legitimately interpreted in any way the interpreter (reader/hearer) wants to interpret it – i.e., that language does not have a definite meaning. If that is a true presupposition, then I should be allowed to interpret the objector’s words in a manner that directly contradicts what the objector intended by his words. I should be able to say, "NO ONE can make the Bible say anything other than what it actually says," and the objector should have no objection. But, of course the person making the objection would have an objection to my contradicting his statement and therefore the objector doesn’t really believe that language can be legitimately interpreted however the interpreter wishes. Therefore, the objection itself is self-contradictory and self-refuting.

2. Don't you believe the Bible is clear? The Bible declares that it is clear. Scripture makes wise the simple minded (Psa 119:130). Not everything in the Bible is equally clear to the “ignorant and unstable” (2 Pet 3:16), but careful and faithful study of the Scripture yields the mind of God (2 Cor 1:13; 2 Tim 2:15).

3. Either you don’t believe that the Bible is God’s Word or you don’t believe that God is good. If the Bible is basically unclear, then it must not be God’s Word, since our good God would never speak in a confusing or unclear way to his children. Or, if the Bible is unclear, and if the Bible is God’s Word, then God himself must not be good, since he speaks in such a way as to confuse his very own children, causing strife and division among them about what he himself has declared to be true. Only a cruel God would speak confusing words (or choose an inadequate vehicle to communicate himself) and then hold people accountable to believe and obey what is impossible to understand.

4. Are you willing to study the Bible for yourself? It is possible that our objector notices that apparently sincere and studious Christians disagree on some important matters of doctrine and that this objector is unwilling to roll up his sleeves and study the Scriptures for himself to see what it says. Some people have remarkable trust in the notion that Bible students who disagree on various important doctrines have all actually studied equally and faithfully. But that would be a mistake. Even Bible scholars sometimes believe what they want the Bible to say rather than what the Bible actually says.

No comments:

Post a Comment