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You’re Not Always Right

We all have biases that affect the way we interpret the Bible.

There are Christians who have very strong opinions on just about everything: how to vote, how to raise children, how to date, how to stay married, and how to interpret Scripture. Often, Christians back up their opinions with Scripture. But how many of those subjects are truly addressed in the Bible? We might be surprised to find that some of the values we hold most dearly are often a result of our cultural and childhood upbringing and have very little to do with what the Bible actually says.

The Bible says nothing about voting, for instance. In fact, most of the political advice in the Old and New Testaments is about how to deal with a corrupt government. As to raising children, there only a few random passages that are mentioned in the midst of addressing other topics, such as Deuteronomy 6:1–9, Proverbs 13:24, or Ephesians 6:1. Plus, there’s nothing in the Bible about dating and very little about marriage. As to how to interpret Scripture, the Bible seems to be deliberately vague and confusing. Even Jesus cloaked truth in mystery.

You wouldn’t know that from the way these subjects are taught, though. Most who instruct on these topics do it with absolute certainty and ridicule those who disagree or waver. But if that’s the case, what can we be certain about? And how can we—ministers in the church—ensure that we’re teaching others accurately about these topics?

Explicit and Implicit Truth in Scripture

When it comes down to it, there are very few things that can’t be argued with in Scripture. Those are the things we should cling to without wavering. The rest we should hold with caution, knowing that we could very well be influenced by something other than God.

What are the explicit truths in the Bible? John 14:6 is a good example: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” This is something that can’t be argued with. There’s no wiggle room whatsoever.

There are also many implicit truths in the Bible that we can understand—even if they’re not stated in one clear, succinct sentence. An example of an implicit truth is the Trinity. When you read the Bible as a whole, you see the three persons of the Godhead clearly, even though it’s not spelled out in one verse.

These are the kind of truths that should be informing everything else we believe, even the aforementioned topics. By reading the entire Bible and gleaning the truths there, we do gain insight on things like politics, parenting, dating, marriage, and doctrine. We need to hold those kinds of insights loosely, however, because the Bible says so little directly about these topics. Otherwise we open the door for our culture and background to influence our opinions in unhealthy ways.

February29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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