“Why is interpretation needed?” Lesson 6 answers this question very well, advocating for the correct interpretation of the Bible. I am amazed at the ways in which God has led individuals and groups throughout history to interpret the Bible in new ways, further revealing His character, His plans, and His will for humans like you and me.
This reminds me of the emotional turn in higher education. Increasingly educators are realising that learning is not just a function of cognition. Emotions—both positive and negative—play a significant part in student learning and success. How we feel about an institution, the faculty, a course of study, and our peers impacts the level and quality of our engagement. I guess the same applies to the way believers relate to Scripture, the church organisation, and fellow believers. Pure objectivity is unattainable. Thinking is always impacted by the existing understanding that arises from one’s culture and education. What matters is how flexible we’re prepared to be as we contemplate alternatives. I suspect the Holy Spirit can help us rise above ourselves to the extent we’re prepared to let go of our selfishness and self-assurance.
Not all truth is equal. No matter the interpretations, as Christians, we should have one common, agreed-upon belief as the base of our faith - that Jesus is the Son of God; and His life, death and resurrection gives meaning to God’s printed word and our experienced communion. If our interpretation of Scripture upholds that basic Christian belief, we have confidence in it. On the other hand, if our interpretation wanders into different territory, we need to re-evaluate.
I have had personal experience with this. Many years ago I did an in-depth study of SDA doctrines - not to dispute, but to clarify. In the process, to my consternation, I found serious discrepancies. I spoke with the pastor about it, being young and needing affirmation. My question to him was - “If, after praying and sincerely studying the Bible, you find that our beliefs don’t agree with what you’ve found - what can one do?” His answer told me everything I needed to know. He said “Pray again.”
I knew then, that this man’s faith was based on a specific interpretation. In this way, the Scriptures had to conform to the interpretation. Whatever gave him the interpretation fashioned God’s word for him, and was not to be disputed. If our faith is in someone else’s faith, we have no faith at all.
In other words- you haven’t found the right “answer(s)” yet.
"I knew then, that this man’s faith was based on a specific interpretation. In this way, the Scriptures had to conform to the interpretation. Whatever gave him the interpretation fashioned God’s word for him, and was not to be disputed."
You could have come to no other conclusion. Though EGW claimed that there was (and was going to be) “Progressive Truth”…I have seen no example of this in Adventism.
It also says that I can’t trust that God will pay attention to my prayers; or, that I needed to pester God to get a reliable answer. Either way, the answer was already assumed, and God just needed to rubber stamp it. Silly me, I could have just read the 28 points of Doctrine**, or whatever.
Why do we assume there is only one answer. I look around in nature and all I see is diversity. I am confident that on a Christological level there are many ways to be perceptive of the reconciliation offered by truth. Love, Freedom manifesting in Diversity and Unconditional Acceptance. Now that is a hope that would cement ones faith.
I’m trying to think of who I’ve known in the SDA churches I’ve attended through the years that could meet this criteria and I’ve gotta say…I’m coming up empty!! I guess we’re doomed in the area of ‘good interpretation’ of the Bible.
on the other hand, the fact that different people bring different abilities, experiences, biases and presuppositions to the table of biblical interpretation means a more varied landscape of interpretation can emerge than if one person studied and interpreted, after having somehow divested himself of his personality, identity and background…
as i see it, this corporate advantage is the point of weekly get togethers in a church setting, or more specifically, a weekly sabbath school setting…
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The tithe was an Old Testament, Old Covenant exercise. I guess even if a pastor knows that, he also knows that he’s walking the plank if he shares that insight with his congregation.
Tithing is a practical solution to funding the modern Christian church. To acknowledge that tithing is not a New Covenant expectation but a church “tradition” would be OK in my book. If scriptural proof is required by some, New Testament and some Old Testament verses that reinforce the need for generosity and the church’s duty to the poor and others who are in difficult situations might do the trick.
We do when it’s convenient. SDAs do wear mixed fabrics, and we don’t stone people for violating the sabbath, and we don’t follow the sacrifices. But when it comes to diet we like to pretend that Acts 10 doesn’t exist, Acts 15:28 doesn’t exist. 1 Timothy 4 doesn’t exist, etc. On the sabbath we like to pretend Romans 14:5 doesn’t exist. On both food and the sabbath we like to pretend that Colossians 2:16 doesn’t really mean what it says.