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scripture wars

October 13, 2008

Have you ever disagreed with another believer? have you ever disagreed over scripture? very likely.

recently my FIL taught on the inductive study method.

exegesis = extracting truth and answers from the Word after studying.

observing – what do i see?

interpreting – what does it mean?

applying – how should i respond?

the application is the one that strikes me most. how should “I” respond?

i have, on more than one occasion through the years, been beat over the head with other peoples interpretation of scripture, taking a verse that God spoke directly to them about then attempting to force it on me.

and i’m not talking about loving conversations where we share how Gods word is speaking, personally, to us.

one may look at Psalm 46:10 (to use a very simple example) “be still and know that I am God” slightly different from another persons interpretation. one can see that verse as “do nothing and wait”, while another may see it as “be patient but keep treading”. is either wrong? no, not in my opinion. is it right for one to force their interpretation on the other? no. also my opinion 🙂

too often i’ve seen relationships severed over scripture wars when one or more people may not see eye to eye on a passage that may, or may not, have to deal with a specific circumstance. i’ve seen it from a distance, personally and even on the blogs. why are believers fighting over interpretation? why? and furthermore, we should not be measuring the depth of the anothers spirituality based on difference of interpretation and application.

Philippians 2:1-2 “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

Spiritual unity should be our goal. not selfishness that breeds discord.

Gods word is not divisive. Mans pride is.

just my opinion….or interpretation??? 😉

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    October 13, 2008 4:57 am

    This is an uncomfortable post to read for ME this morning, because I know what you are saying. I learned the “process” in a book call “teach me to the bible in 28 days, by Kay Arthur” Although, a hard book I found it really interesting and really took away some good tools about reading the Word.

    Here’s the uncomfortable part. WE all have different “ideas”??(I’m not even sure that’s a correct word) of what the word of God says and means.

    I went through a pretty tough scene in my personal life (k, still going through) and I heard several opinions/takes/beliefs and so forth on my situation.

    I got ANGRY…. VERY ANGRY.. and I WAS HURT….deeply

    Instead of lashing out or quit reading or talking with this group of people.

    I myself, got in the WORD of God. I found my solace knowing that a few comments that were made were false. I ease my grip from my laptop and just really prayed over the situation and God through the WORD taught me some private stuff about my stuff. Is it the same interpretation for Joe Blow down the street?
    I don’t know.

    I believe that their are many interpretations of the Word of God.
    No one is completely accurate.
    BEFORE we speak, we need to spend time in there. (this includes me)

    and most importantly: the Word of God is not about injuring a soul, yes it’s about correction and pruning and conviction, but it is not about injuring.

    The WORD of God is about Love, restoration, Grace, and growth.

    Hopefully I continue to use it that way.

    Thanks Tam… I needed this.. Love you

  2. October 13, 2008 5:08 am

    The division that bothers me most is the dissension over verses dealing with Christian living. I do not mind differences. I accept my view is different. It is dissension that bothers me.

  3. October 13, 2008 5:41 am

    Excellent post. I agree with you, tam. To be clear, spiritual unity should be our goal in the body of Christ. Yes, there will be disagreements, and times when the frustrations of this life simply overwhelm us. There are times when we just can’t see eye to eye, but that should never stop us from showing one another the love of Christ in our lives.

    Since beginning this little pastime called blogging, I’ve discovered several people with whom I adamantly disagree with on a variety of subjects. I’ve seen people claiming Christ in their lives using language my Father won’t let me use (and I don’t want to use), taking positions on important issues which totally confuse me, and some even having the attitude “if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong.” We can agree to disagree.

    We are certainly different, but we can get along in Christ. If my brother or sister does things that are wrong and against Scripture, I cannot agree with it; I must, however, love that person with the love of Christ. There will always be disagreements, but we can handle them in a Christian manner pleasing to God.

    We tend to stick to our little groups, too. On some excellent advise from a seasoned blogger, I am trying to visit blogs outside the ones I normally frequent. It’s not always easy, but it does broaden my horizon.

  4. October 13, 2008 6:07 am

    One thing I love about our seminary is it’s theological diversity. We are all under the umbrella of evangelical Christianity, but we come from a varied scope of denominations, which means a varied scope of doctrines as well. This is one of the main reasons why Drew and I picked this seminary. We love the Bride of Christ as a whole (as opinionated as she may be!) and want to worship and serve alongside all of “her.”

    Truth be told, Drew and I are not of the same theological persuasion… Nope. We actually come from and lean towards two different denominations that, in some fundamental ways, could not be more opposite. (not opposed, just opposite – get it?)…. So, yeah, we’re facing a denominational crisis – we have NO idea what type of church he/we will land in after seminary.

    Our first fight was actually over theology. We learned a hard lesson there: Choose love. There’s nothing more tempering than to be madly in love with someone that you might not necessarily agree with theologically. Again, choose love. We should be so madly in love with the rest of the Body of Christ that we won’t let theological differences divide us.

  5. October 13, 2008 6:37 am

    I could not agree more with you, and with the comments that come before me. We are all on this road to God (as believers) and we are not all at the same place on that road…so how could the application be the same? The dissension is not loving or edifying to the body…and Jesus said they would know us by our love. I tend to fade out when people are pushy with thier views if there is no love it their mannerisms. Attacking people over what has never been agreed on by the many Godly scholars that have come before us…how vain for us to think we have it all figured out. There is only one thing that I will stand and take a bullet for and that is the Gospel message….

    Man! if we don’t love eachother, I want to run from it, and God really works my heart on this one…but what about the ones who don’t believe, and maybe have come close enough to hear the bickering…I don’t want my converstation or argueing to cause them one more minute in the dark kingdom…I think we need to be more Kingdom focused.

    Love you Tam, and I agree..somethings need to be between us and our All knowing God!

  6. October 13, 2008 7:07 am

    One thing I do when trying to “interpret” scripture is to ask, “Does this line up with the character of God?” So many times people who tend to be more on the legalistic side of things forget about God’s love.

    Good thoughts, Tam. I think those verses in Philippians Chapter 2 say it all.

  7. October 13, 2008 8:56 am

    I try to remember that when I read Holy Scripture I am reading for the betterment of my relationship with my Creator.

    Holy Scripture is pretty clear in that Revelation knowledge comes in different ways at different times for different people. We will not all understand a specific verse the same as another.

    It is my (personal) beleife that these “Scripture Wars” is another tool the enemy uses to divide the Church.

    Additionally, if you are able to observe one of these “disagreements” you will notice that there are a lot of personal pronouns thrown around. I believe, I understand, I heard. Now, I think if you would recall those conversations and insert “pridefully” into the sentence… “I pridefully believe, I pridefully understand, I pridefully heard.” After all if a believer is unwilling to consider that the Lord can and will speak to another and GIVE THEM REVELATION KNOWLEDGE then…. well that almost seems like those guys back in Biblical times. The Pharasees. “OH LORD, THANK YOU THAT I UNDERSTAND SCRIPTURE BETTER THAN THEY DO!”

  8. October 13, 2008 9:13 am

    In the essentials…unity.
    In the non-essentials…liberty.
    In everything else…charity.

    My pastor quotes this often.
    It speaks my heart.
    I need say nothing else.

  9. Heidi permalink
    October 13, 2008 9:22 am

    @Cathi– WHOA… awesome word!!!

  10. October 13, 2008 9:28 am

    I think something that helps me in this particular area is to “interpret” scripture through the lens of the “whole” not the “individual” – we need to be careful about taking one verse and making it into something it’s not.

    More times than not, if we read and “listen” to scripture in the context of the entire Bible, we’ll avoid a lot of the misinterpretation that happens.

    We have to look at individual scripture as one frame that makes up a living piece of a larger, dynamic film and not just a quick, static, snapshot polaroid.

    A lot of times people will preach or “share” an entire theological discourse on one verse and never once look at or show how that verse is literally wrapped in a beautiful context that makes wonderful sense if read as a part and not individually.

    But, as to whether there will be disagreements, sure. I believe Christians can wear shades in worship, some don’t. Just kidding….or am I?

  11. October 13, 2008 9:36 am

    This may have been said, but the comments, they were ohhh-so long. Sorrry.

    A few things to keep in mind regarding scripture…
    Every one of us- every one- has presuppositions, that is, we come to the Bible having ideas about 1st Timothy, when Paul mentions that women should not be preaching. Already I’ve got heads spinning. Because you might have seen the scripture as Paul NOT saying that, or maybe he did……… Denominations exist because of personal scripture interpretation.
    So, with that said, disagreements will always happen, I think, because of each persons interpretation. I think it’s unfortunate. You grew up in a church that had presuppositions about specific passages, whether omitting those that talked about women preaching (mine did), or just not discussing those tricky passages about tongues (mine did), or the role of baptism in the realm of salvation, etc… So, in a way, you grew up in an environment that told you how to view scripture. Of course you have the power to distinguish what you really believe it says, but we all grew up that way.
    Kind of scary to think about, don’t you think?

    The other thing to keep in mind when interpreting scripture is this: The culture when the verse was written, and thus the AIM- that is, the Author’s Intended Meaning.
    “Greet one another with a holy kiss” is a good example of a cultural implementation. Is the writer insisting we all kiss one another? At the time, yes- because of the culture, but now? I don’t think so.

    Some might suggest you study Greek and Hebrew so that you can have a firm understanding of what the AIM really is for all scripture. Lots of us don’t have time for that- And I’d agree, scripture has become fodder for our own arguments- who is “righter”. It can be ridiculous, and ugly- and you’re right, it’s about pride.

  12. October 13, 2008 9:54 am

    Becca- 😆 after reading “they are oh sooo long” totally cracked me up! and then I read it… good thoughts

  13. wanita permalink
    October 13, 2008 10:07 am

    how did you know tam? 😕 it’s my interpertation, that you posted this because i needed it! now! like right now!! 🙂 i’m in the middle of an email conversation that i feel really unsettled about. i can hardly hear what their trying to say thru all those ‘opinions’. and then i answered back w/ pride? oh that stinkin good for nothing pride! boy what a pointless conversation!

    i love all these comments and am now i’m off to read philipians 2 again…

  14. October 13, 2008 10:58 am

    Tam, I could NOT agree with you more. Nailing this one down is like nailing jello to a wall … yet it is SO important! Can I share a few things I think (ways I look at it)?

    #1: (have you heard of Jesse Duplantis?) Jesse Duplantis had an experience one time where he went to heaven. (so completely aside from all the particulars of how he did – that’s in God’s hands) He related many things about what he saw in heaven. One thing that has always stuck with me is this: In heaven he was talking with someone, and in the conversation he said, “Glory to God!” Instantaneously it lit off “Glory to God!” in the other, and then “Glory to God! Glory to God!” from those standing near, and the refrain echoed throughout heaven as each praise would inspire the others to praise. How does this pertain? Well, I see all of us here (on earth and in the blogosphere) kinda like that. As we talk or post about what He’s showing us, or what He’s done for us, it sparks praise in everyone else. As it should! Those who are interested in knowing God are also going to take delight in Him. Delight sparks joy. Joy sparks praise. When we as Christians discuss together the deeds or likeness of God, it should produce joy and delight. If it doesn’t, but instead produces criticism and judgmentalism … are we really loving God? Are we really living in His presence and drawing near to His heart?

    #2: Awhile back, God showed me how unique and personal taste is (, and how knowing Him can be seen through this sense we all have. We all can taste. Yet none of us tastes exactly the same things as the person next to us. For instance, you, Tam, LOVE Oreos. I’ll warrant there are indeed people who find Oreos disgusting. (I know. Baffling, but true.) Well, is there a ‘right way’ for Oreos to taste? Is one of you wrong for tasting what you do? Should every person have exactly the same sense of taste? Obviously the answer is NO! God in His great wisdom saw fit to create people to be able to taste the exact same thing in completely different ways. And not only is He okay with that, He loves it! “Taste and see that the Lord is good …”

    #3: incomplete vs incorrect The first time I visited your blog was to comment on Robert’s guest blog. In my comments, I was trying to explain how a Christian comes to be assured of the knowledge of God they have (sorry I keep referencing what I write! I seem to learn things as I teach – one of God’s ways with me, I think) and whether or not it is a ‘proper understanding’ of God. I related it to a relationship; how if the person being known is truthful, we can believe what they do tell us about themselves. However, there will always be more to learn in any relationship, regardless of how much we already know. Therefore what we know is not a complete knowledge … but being incomplete doesn’t make what you do know incorrect. As Christians, we need to have humility and realize that the complete knowledge of God will always extend infinitely beyond what we currently grasp … and that God does not start at the same point on the same subject with everyone. As long as they are our brother or sister in Christ, we have to understand that they are on this lovely delightful path called “knowing God” just like we are. We expect grace and forgiveness for the areas we have yet to know; we must extend that to them as well. And in doing so … we just may learn that they knew something we didn’t!

    sorry that comment was so long. Love you, Tam!

  15. October 13, 2008 11:46 am

    I went through twelve years of Catholic school, which I am grateful for. During that education we obviously had religion classes and learned bible stories, and of course I know bible stories from church and the priests’ take on them through homilies.

    What I’ve come to discover is that most of that teaching was about interpreting what the message of a parable or story or teaching meant to me and my situation in that moment. That personal relationship of how God touched my heart and developed a relationship with me. Not a lot of time was spent on dissecting the message as much as it was a way to learn to listen to the message it provided you.

    Right or wrong, that worked for me. I feel very comfortable talking to God and listening for guidance. As I have been exposed to more on blogs like this, I’m trying to challenge myself to delve deeper and learn more, and will say that I am MUCH more receptive to learning and keeping an open mind and understanding others when it is a conversation. There have been a few blogs I’ve been visited where it’s been intensely judgmental… where there is less discussion and more of a feeling of talking down to those who are not as versed in the argument. I so appreciate the discussions, but nothing sends me running faster than people who belittle me while trying to “teach” me. If I am someone who grew up with faith that feels that way, imagine the people with no faith experience. I imagine many of them run and never look back, and that saddens me greatly.

    Great post, Tam.

  16. October 13, 2008 12:16 pm

    Great post sweetie. Can you hop over to reality chicks and give me your input?

  17. October 13, 2008 1:26 pm

    I SO agree with this post – God’s word is so personal and He can so lovingly open our eyes to a passage of scripture that, if we we apply it in the way He is revealing it to us, it can change everything.

  18. October 13, 2008 2:05 pm

    Cathi took my saying, so I’ll just repeat it, since it’s so far up there:

    In the essentials…unity.
    In the non-essentials…liberty.
    In everything else…charity.

    Love, joy, peace in Christ.

  19. October 13, 2008 2:08 pm

    love this post
    and love also what @mandythompson said

  20. October 13, 2008 7:12 pm

    Great post!!!! I read it twice it was so good. Right on.

  21. October 13, 2008 9:33 pm

    im just getting home tonight from a long day trip and am reading through these comments.

    i am so glad to see, from all who commented here, that we are aware that God is not a small, uncreative, boring God. He is the master of creativity, creative thinking. and like Annie said above…He has given us all different tastes, different minds. we are not robots. how boring it would be if we all thought exactly alike. but just because we may think differently – doesnt mean there is a “problem” – theres just flavor, a different perspective. and if it is out of line, God will bring it back into line. but thats up to Him and that person.

    anyway…im exhausted. im off to bed.

    thank you all for participating in this discussion. each of you are amazing, with SO much wisdom and knowledge to offer…thank you!

  22. October 13, 2008 10:38 pm

    In the essentials…unity.
    In the non-essentials…liberty.
    In everything else…charity.

    Who decides what is essential and what is non-essential for each one of us with our differing ‘taste’?? The ‘else’ is superfluous. many Bibles interchange Charity with Love.

    Apart from those small ‘picky bits’ it is quite good 🙂

    How many churches teach and emphasise the importance of understanding each of us are different and think differently but have ONE thing in common with every other human on this planet… we all have a personal ego. The Ego takes the place of God in us – or tries to and is what causes us all to interpret differently whatever we take ‘in to our consciousness.

    To me the Goal of Religion is to teach us all to overcome our personal ego and decisions it makes on what is ‘right’ or what is ‘wrong’ and instead convert our consciousness into a self-LESS thing who follows always and only the Will of the Father.

    If we correctly interpret Scripture we will lessen our ‘self’, OUR ‘interpretations’ and differences and increase Him, in love. We will see the Truth of God (who is all things to all peoples) in other’s interpretations of Scripture and not the personal ego they unwittingly, or unknowingly, seek to put in His place.

    Do not leave an interpretation of Scripture until you are able to hold a compassionate interpretation of it. (Compassionate to all the bretheren, not just with your own ego, of which Pride is a small part).

    less of me, more of Him.

    Great post Tam.


  23. Anonymous permalink
    October 14, 2008 1:35 am

    i have an important question.

    what do you do when someone…maybe even a lot of someones…are hurting you a whole lot and in a very, very, bad way … ? what do you do when youve been living with this for years and you want to speak up and scream and shake them silly because of their “interpretation ?”

  24. October 14, 2008 5:53 am

    There’s a Derek Webb song with these lyrics:

    “How can I kill the one I’m supposed to love?
    ‘Cause my enemies are men like me…
    So I will protest the Sword when it’s not wielded well,
    ‘Cause my enemies are men like me…”

    …not that our brothers and sisters are enemies at all, but there’s this thing in America these days where we care more about proving that we’re right than loving the person we’re talking to.

    All that said, I think most of us could use more humility in how we receive someone else’s attempt to share a difference of opinion :0)

  25. October 14, 2008 6:53 am

    Love, I understand the essentials to be anything the Bible teaches clearly. We can have unity, and are told to be unified in the Spirit:

    I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ~Ephesians 4:1-6

    When it comes to personal convictions or opinions we must show grace in love. I think Romans 14 speaks clearly to this – the non-essentials. When the Bible does not speak clearly we are to give grace in liberty.

    And I agree, the “else” is definitely superfluous: In everything…charity (love)

  26. October 14, 2008 2:41 pm

    Tam, this post has to be in my “Top Five Tam Posts” category. I am loving it.

    Also appreciate the quote from Cathi and Michelle. All the discussion here is amazing.

  27. October 17, 2008 7:04 pm

    Sorry I’m getting to this so late. I really appreciated reading what you shared and have been praying about the division for some time now. God always brings me back to “A house divided against itself shall not prosper” and as the body, we do belong in the same house and should not be divided. God has been putting it on my heart to right a post about division and mostly about self-righteousness but I’m still praying for the entire word. Will tag you in it once it’s up. Lots of love and hugs to you.

  28. November 3, 2008 11:28 am

    so good!

    “Gods word is not divisive. Mans pride is.” — well said friend.

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