What’s That Supposed To Mean?

The common rejoinder to a biblical quotation which refutes someone’s argument, “That’s just your interpretation!” is the Custer-esque last stand when backed into a corner in an attempt to hold to a non-biblical position.  Rather than give up the non-biblical view in preference to the better supported position, they seek refuge in a subjective approach to biblical interpretation in an effort to avoid confronting what the text says.  Now, there are some who take this view out of necessity in order to keep some belief they have.  But then there are others who believe this is simply just the way the Bible was intended to be understood, and are not necessarily trying to protect something.

“The most enduring tradition in the 2,500 year history of biblical interpretation is that there is no one “correct” interpretation, but an infinite number” says John R. Coats, writing for the Huffington Post in an article titled: Interpreting the Bible: Your Place at the Table.  What Coats is suggesting is the authors who penned the Bible texts did not write with the purpose of the readers receiving a certain message.  This assertion that it is a “tradition” is not only baseless, it trivializes the severe ordeals the authors went through.  To believe that Paul while relaying the urgency of his readers to take for themselves a new religious tradition, had no intention for his words to be understood in a particular way violates certain sensibilities.  For one, why should we expect Paul to endure the trials of persecution, imprisonment, and ultimate martyrdom for a cause which he documented, if we were simply supposed to understand his words in any way which tickled our fancy?

Coats and others who would advance this view, that the Bible texts were intended to be a self-help motivational work, confuse the fact that there are differences of opinions in interpretation of certain passages, with personal interpretation being the intended purpose.   That people disgree, does not mean they are supposed to disagree.  In fact, there is only one valid interpretation of the Bible texts.  The truth is, the majority of the Bible texts are uncontested by those attempting to understand it.  Of the passages which are in dispute, and there is disagreement, someone is wrong.  The authors wrote with a specific message, any deviation from that specific message is an incorrect understanding.

Obviously people will disagree for any number of reasons both legitimate and illegitimate.  Of course, in a perfect world everyone would agree.  Unfortunately that is an impossibility.  However, when approaching any text, religious or otherwise, one ought to be seeking the message the author intended to be conveyed, whether we agree with that message or not.


Related Article: Counterfeit Truth, Speak Your Mind, Literally


  1. Jer 36:1-32 [The entirity of the Scripture was posted and removed for sake of brevity and replaced with a link to the referenced Bible verse, not censorship]

    The above combined with, 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. and Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: and 1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. and Mat 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

    All of this combined with years of study and the teachings of the Holy Spirit will give the reader the impetus of God’s Word. However, we should never, ever get cocky and arrogant when He has revealed some things to us. We must always approach His Word in humility, always praying that He will lead us to what He wishes us to understand. We must always keep in mind another admonition of the LORD: Isa 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And with all of this, we can be assured that we have only scratched the surface…

    One things I have observed amongst “Christians:” whenever they are confronted with new interpretations of the Bible that appear to conflict with what they understand, they back off and absolutely refuse to look at the new idea. And if they’ve concluded that this new idea is heresy, they pull away from the person presenting the idea and literally ostracize him/her, even if that person is a member of their family. The Bible warns us of this, though: Mat 10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    May the LORD richly bless you…


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