BOGUS INTERPRETATION

Let’s face it. There are many people who believe they can make a more “relevant” or even “revolutionary” interpretation of the Bible. Some people have made big money at reinterpreting “The Revelation of St. John” along with other scriptures and made systems of unbiblical ideology from it. Other people cannot get their minds around the fact that St. Paul opposed homosexuality and lumped pederasty with it. A few people out there are attempting to interpret the natural world with one or all of the creation stories from the Old Testament. All these people have done with bogus interpretation is cause confusion.

Some bogus interpreters cause harm. Should an abused spouse divorce the abuser? Or is it the divine plan that the victim stay with the abuser because there is no biblical permission for divorce in such cases? Literalist interpretations can lead to evil. On the other hand, should we decide that Biblical writers really would support modern (or post-modern) ideas about how people should live their lives? Would Jesus perform a gay wedding? Would Jesus hold a gun show?

I am often tempted to play the role the philosopher Zeno who demonstrated the logic of the Greeks could be taken to ridiculous extremes. Remember the famous arrow which would never hit the tree? How about the mathematical problem of separate points that are separated by space which is nothing? How can they be separate? You get the idea.

The book of Revelation clearly tells us that there will be no women in Heaven. “When the angel opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for half an hour.” (Rev. 8:1) This is a tongue in cheek sexist interpretation. And yet, without knowledge of how written language works, such sexist interpretations can be declared as absolute. Is female ordination to be opposed because the twelve named apostles are all male? Of course not? But, what about those passages attributed to St. Paul about women that appear to contradict other passages attributed to him. What do we do?

I find it hard to believe that the church is to slavishly follow only one interpretation of the Bible. I see billboards that make declarations for the Bible that simply are not true. Does this mean then that all of Christian belief is false? In the world of either/or, we find very conflicting ideas. The Bible is part of the tradition of the Church. It is the repository of that tradition. Yet, the tradition is subject to development and change. The liturgy for Holy Communion is written into the Scripture. The liturgy for Christian marriage came later and is not in the Bible even though marriage is considered to be as honorable as singleness. There are two different versions of the Lord’s Prayer. And there are two different reasons given for honoring the Sabbath. Do these differences invalidate the commandments? No. Differing versions of Creation reinforce the goodness of it. Differing reasons for the Lord’s Prayer and keeping a sabbath rest help reinforce these things.

Silliness is not next to godliness. Read the Scripture and use it to inform your life and how you live in your church. Let demagogues move go to their own enclaves.

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