There are at least 14 Factors that influence what one comes up with in the Bible


“There are at least 14 Factors that influence what one comes up with in the Bible:

1. Your views regarding the inspiration of Scripture.

2. Whether you would favor a literal or figurative interpretation of a given passage.

3. Your knowledge and awareness of other “related” Scriptures dealing with the same issue, including the immediate context and the broader context of the entire body of Scripture.

4. Your knowledge and understanding of the background and motivation of the writer.

5. The way in which a given interpretation fits into your over-all theological belief system.

6. Your level of understanding of the original language in which the text was written.

7. The various interpretations and commentaries to which you have already been exposed.

8. The ways in which you process information. Some of you tend to emphasize reason and logic, while others depend more on personal
experiences and intuition.

9. The degree to which you are willing to accept logical inconsistencies as part of your belief system.

10. Your willingness to change your views in the light of new information.

11. The degree to which you are satisfied with your current views.

12. The amount of time you are willing to devote to your theological study and inquiry.

13. The unwillingness to consider alternative interpretations that diverge from your religious tradition.

14. Your overall view of God that has been conditioned by many different life experiences and relationships.

Based on the above variables, does it surprise anyone that there are many different ways the Bible is interpreted? This is especially problematic because many people view the Bible as something to be “right about.”

The only absolute truth is God or truth itself, and our best interpretations of the Bible are only an approximation of it. God was God and Truth was Truth before there was a Bible and will continue to be after the Bible is no more. The Bible is not a theological landing strip for a particular belief system about God, but a spiritual launching pad setting us free to explore and enjoy ever-deepening and ever-widening dimensions of life, love, peace, goodness, beauty, and freedom.

Once I realized that the point of the Bible wasn’t to create a belief system ABOUT God the Bible became an invaluable resource for my journey WITH God.”

– Jim Palmer, Notes From (over) The Edge

Latest Comments

  1. Adam Shields says:

    I would add 1) your knowledge of the context that the original scripture was written into and 2) your (and your tradition’s) willingness to accept alternative explanations and 3) your exposure to Christian history and the way that different scriptures have been understood differently over time.

  2. John W. Morehead says:

    There is also the religious community of which one is a part. We tend to forget that important aspect and its influence, not only on ourselves, but on others as well. It also has application to how we understand other religious texts. So when Evangelicals quote the Qur’an to argue in a “self-evident” reading about terrorism and violence, we forget that as outsiders we need to consider the differing interpretations of Muslims in their own communities with their own sets of assumptions and experiences.

  3. jason douglas greene says:

    Jim this is awesome thanks sooooo much..

  4. drsamlopez says:

    Good list. I would add a few: 1) The degree of un-obeyed truth in your life. 2) The degree of self deception. and, 3) The degree of arrogance.

  5. Don Rogers says:

    Excellent Jim. Also, great comments & additions

  6. Bob Krekelberg says:

    The Bible is a type of Rorschach Ink Blot. Much of what we find in it is mostly a projection of ourselves as we are at any given time. Many will say that the Bible changes us; it’s more probable that we change the Bible. Issues such as: marriage, divorce, remarriage; homosexuality, drinking alcohol, war and peace, justice (the list is endless)….are all matters addressed by the Bible for our instruction. The substance of this instruction flexes or solidifies according to what we bring to it from our ever changing life experiences. For example: A pastor can take a hard stand against divorce until he realizes in some cases it’s the only way to end a dangerous relationship. Or, he will soften his stand if he goes through a divorce and wishes to remarry. How much softer is a Christian’s hard-line Bible reading on homosexuality, after he discovers his child is gay.

  7. KC Bob says:

    15. Whether you begin with Jesus (God the Son) and interpret the bible or begin with the bible and interpret God.

  8. Adam says:

    Essential additions:

    1) Your doctrine of God’s sovereignty as it operates in these last days
    2) Whether or not you believe we currently live in a fundamentally just world, in which people mostly get what they deserve

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