False Current Methods Of Interpreting The Written Word 

Tragically, at present many Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics have adopted the following false methods of interpreting the written Word of God:

 

The liberal method

 

The liberal method involves interpreting the Word of God according to modern contemporary secular ideas and philosophies in the name of being relevant. An example of this is interpreting the Word of God in terms of humanistic attitudes to self-fulfilment. It is not sinful to be relevant in matters which the Word of God does not have clear teachings and commands. But being relevant in ways contrary to the Word is a form of wickedness.

 

The papal infallibility method

 

The papal infallibility method involves accepting the views of certain “anointed” leaders as being supposedly infallible interpretations or revelations of the Word. Such interpretations are supposed to be accepted without question by others. Anyone who dares to question these claimed God-given “revelations” of His Word in any way are threatened with God’s judgement for supposedly “touching the Lord’s anointed”. This is even though the Biblical concept of touching the Lord’s anointed refers to murdering a God-appointed king and not to challenging their interpretations of the Word (see 1 Samuel 24:1-7).

 

The tradition-centred method

 

The tradition-centred method involves interpreting the Word of God solely on the basis of what certain great Christian leaders of the past have interpreted it. Those who follow this method quote the Early Church Fathers and so-called “Saints” as one of their supposed highest authorities for interpreting the Word. This is even though these Fathers and “Saints” often contradicted each other. (Refer to my book “HIGHEST AUTHORITY: CHURCH, SCRIPTURE OR TRADITION?” for more details).

Many of these Fathers and “Saints” taught all types of unbiblical teachings about various matters. Similarly, many Evangelicals often treat the writings of their most respected theologians as being their highest authorities in interpreting God’s Word. If an interpretation of the Word disagrees with what they have read in their favourite theologians’ books, they reject it. For example, if these theologians say the Word teaches spectacular miracles do not occur, they accept this without question.

Many Pentecostals and Charismatics treat the writings of various deceased Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders whose lives were associated with many miracles as being the highest authority in determining what the Bible teaches. These Pentecostals and Charismatics fall into the Catholic/Orthodox error of believing miracles in a person’s life (a “Saint” or a Pentecostal leader) are a sign God approves of everything the person preaches.

As a result of using this wrong method of interpreting the Bible, the writings of the Early Church Fathers and “Saints”, Evangelical theologians and Pentecostal/Charismatic miracle-workers become like new Pharisaic traditions of the elders which are believed to be almost the Word of God themselves.

 

The experience method

 

The experience method involves interpreting the written Word of God to fit in with our own spiritual experiences. If I used this experience-based method of interpretation I would, for example, wrongly do as follows: Because God gave me 10 supernatural dreams in the two or so years after I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, I would make a rule that the Bible teaches that everyone who is baptised in the Spirit will receive 10 God-given dreams within the next few years after this event. When I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, I had a vision of a light from God above my head. Also, I felt compelled to bow as low as possible to Jesus Christ's Presence in the room. If I interpreted the written Word by my experiences, I would have wrongly concluded that all people who are baptised in the Holy Spirit must have a vision of light and must bow like I did.

Actually this false “experience method” of interpreting the Bible was popularised by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834 A.D.), the German Protestant theologian who began to heretical liberal Protestant movement. Schleiermacher was a compromising individual who mixed Christian teaching with the non-Christian philosophy of romanticism in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. [1] Romanticism was a movement in literature, art, philosophy and religion in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s which stressed human emotion, fantasy, imagination and mysticism rather than human reason. [2] Romanticism taught that reality is found through human feelings, experiences, spiritual illumination and inner voices. [3]

Reflecting this, Schleiermacher taught that the experiences of believers had a higher authority than the Bible. [4]

Similarly, in the 1900’s and the present time, many gullible churchgoers follow the pagan philosophy of existentialism which was taught by Soren Kiekegaard (1813-1855), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Albert Camus (1913-1960), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). Existentialism is the foolish philosophy which says there are no such things as absolute objective truth and absolute rights and wrongs, and states that “truth” is only what individuals personally experience as truth. Existentialism is closely linked to but not the same as the ridiculous philosophy of relativism which also says there are no such things as absolute truth and absolute rights and wrongs, and that truth, right and wrong are only relative to each individual person, individual culture or specific time.

Churchgoers who mix their Christian beliefs and practices with pagan existentialism over-emphasise in a sinful idolatrous way their own personal experiences of the physical and spiritual world and reinterpret the Bible according to their own subjective fallible experiences. As a result, they twist, distort and adulterate the written Word of God which is objective and infallible in its original God-intended meanings.

 

The super-spiritual method

 

The super-spiritual method involves having personal so-called “supernatural Holy Spirit-inspired revelations” of the Word which are contrary to the surrounding context of the verse or passage and which oppose the teachings of other verses in the Bible on the same topic. This method is given different names. Some call it the so-called “Spirit of the Word”. (Refer to Chapter “The Letter and The Spirit” for teaching of the difference between the letter and the Spirit). Others call it their “revelations” or their “revelation knowledge”.

We need for the Holy Spirit to reveal His written Word to us (Luke 24:45 and Ephesians 1:17-21). But He will not give us revelations of His Word which are contrary to what He has said in the surrounding context or opposite to other Biblical verses He has also inspired.


[1] Elwell, page 981.

[2] Ibid, page 959.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, pages 982-983.


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