The Week in Words, 3.22.10

My first two quotes today are long and a little difficult (at least for me) but directly applicable to some things I’ve thinking about and pondering this week…

From Let the Reader Understand by McCartney and Clayton,

The ethicality of interpretation is supremely important when it comes to interpreting the Bible. The Scriptures repeatedly warn that wrong thinking is ethically and morally evil, and ineluctably leads to more evil and less understanding. Thus, misinterpreting the Bible is sin. Since the Bible frequently addresses questions of behavioral morality, misunderstanding can lead to incorrect behavior and thus more sin. Further, since the Bible’s subject matter directly addresses our behavior, our interpretation is bound to be heavily influenced by our attempts to justify ourselves. Finally, biblical interpretation touches directly on questions of truth, and truth and ethics are inseparable. A false interpretation of a true statement is a lie, and lies are evil. A false interpretation of a true statement that is a matter of life and death is therefore a great evil. The Bible even declares that a lie told by the Serpent was the sin that perpetrated the fall of man (Gen. 3), and Jesus castigates the devil as “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Bad interpretation is bad.


Interpretation would not be a problem for us, were it not for our sin. False interpretations are sinful and are generated by sin. But as we say this, we also reemphasize that an interpretation different from our own may not be sinful; it might be our interpretation that is sinful…

In other words, recognition of the problem of sin in interpretation should produce a deep humility about our own interpretations and a recognition of our need continually to repent of the sinfulness that we may not even recognize in our interpretive endeavors. Perhaps this is why James warns teachers so harshly in James 3:1. When one teaches, one passes on one’s interpretations, and the falsity within those interpretations is perpetuated. However, humility should not lead to inaction. To withhold the truth also brings judgment, for “where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Prov. 29:18), and “my people go into exile for want of knowledge” (Isa. 5:13). God’s people yearn for revealed truth, and if this yearning is not satisfied, they may accept its counterfeit. Fortunately God is gracious and has provided a sacrifice for all our sins, even our sinful misinterpretations.

And, from The Valley of Vision,

O Father, thou has loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;
O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
shed thine own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;
O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life,
revealed to me the glories of Jesus.
Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous,
so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

The Week in Words is a weekly carnival hosted by my dear friend Melissa at Breath of Life. Participants can post quotes and excerpts from anything they’ve read that week, from the Bible to books to magazine articles to blog posts. Want to join along? Link up your week in words at Melissa’s site!

My friend Julie at Pragmatic Compendium also collects quotes. Check out her “therefore I quote” posts on Thursdays!


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

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