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Do Evangelicals Interpret the Bible?

the bible rock of gibraltar

The Bible is certainly more than 3 words. What that word ‘every’ is telling you is that from Genesis to Revelation every word of the Bible came from the mouth of God. It did not come from the human writers God used but from God himself.

That means that the believer is to live by Genesis 1 all the way to Revelation 22. Those are the words that God has spoken to us. Those are the words we are to live by not what unbelieving science or scientists say but by what God told us in his divine book.

This also removes the option of living by interpretation. As Peter has told us, the word of God is not by private interpretation. We are to find the truth of what God is saying and live by that truth.


Private interpretation is not allowed with scriptures. That is one of the reasons why we have over 40,000 ‘Christian’ denominations.

They do not live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Instead, they live by their own private interpretation or the words of unbelievers. It is time to change and get back to the truth of the Bible and get rid of all alternatives to what God has told us in the Bible.

We are to live by the words of God while we can still do science, archaeology, and study other fields of interest, those are mere tools and have no authority over God or his words. if you want to live for eternity with God, then live correctly by his words.

— Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory God, We Will Follow the Science, March 24, 2023

Thiessen believes that Christians should just believe the Bible as written, and never interpret its words and teachings. This is a common Evangelical belief. The Bible is considered different from all other written works. Its words are written by God, not men or women. While Evangelicals have a variety of explanations for how the Bible came to be, all of them believe the Biblical text is the words of God — inspired, inerrant, and infallible.

From 1995-2002, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. One Sunday night, several new families came to visit the church. After the service, I struck up a conversation with one of the men. He asked me what I believed about a theological issue (I can’t remember the exact subject). We chatted back and forth for a bit, and then I told him that I had a book that I would be glad to loan him on the subject. He replied, “No thanks. The Bible is all I need.” These families didn’t visit again. I suspect I was too liberal for them; you know, I read books.

Any time we read something, we are interpreting the words of the text. Words have meanings, and we must make interpretations to determine what written texts mean. Individual interpretations will vary, sometimes wildly so. I have been writing for sixteen years — millions of words. While I do my best to write in a way so people will clearly understand what I am trying to say, it is not uncommon for people to “interpret” my words differently from the way I intended. Since I am a living author, these misunderstandings can be easily corrected by just asking me, “Bruce, what did you mean when you said ___________?” On occasion, I will write something, send it off to Carolyn to be edited, and she will return it with a note that says “is this what you meant to say?” Sometimes, I reply, “yes, that’s what I meant to say.” Other times, I correct the text so it means what I intended to say. Carolyn has been my editor for years. She has a good handle on how I think and how I use certain words.

We, of course, don’t have access to the authors of the sixty-six books of the Protestant Christian Bible. Even if I were to believe that “God” wrote the Bible, he’s inaccessible. Ask him what he meant to say in this or that verse and his reply is silence. For the past 2,000 years, believers and unbelievers alike have been interpreting the Bible. The moment we read a word, verse, text, or book, we are interpreting it.

Thiessen decries the fact that there are thousands of Christian sects, each with their own interpretations of the Bible, yet is this not what he does in his own life? I question whether Thiessen is a member of a local Christian congregation. If he is, he is part of a church/sect that interprets the Bible a certain way. Theissen demands that people accept that the Bible says this or that. Is he not saying that everyone must interpret the Bible as he does?

Of course, Theissen denies that he interprets the Bible; he just believes it. Such thinking is absurd. To believe is to interpret. Otherwise, one ends up believing that one’s beliefs perfectly align with what God (the Bible) says. This kind of teaching is dangerous, leading to all sorts of dangerous cultic beliefs. Evangelical misogyny, bigotry, racism, and hate rest on the notion that the words of God and the beliefs of God’s chosen ones are one and the same. This is why interpretation is essential to understanding what the Bible possibly says.

The Bible is a collection of ancient religious texts written thousands of years ago. The authors are dead, so we can’t quiz them about what they meant to say. All we can do is interpret their writings. We are blessed to have books, software, language tools, and commentaries to guide our understanding of the Bible. Thiessen uses these tools, so it is disingenuous for him to say he doesn’t interpret the Bible. All of us are influenced by the authors we read. None of us is a blank slate free from external influence. Every book we read, every video we watch, and every podcast we listen to influences our thinking and understanding. (Even if someone says he is following the direction of the Spirit, he is interpreting what he perceives to be the Spirit’s leadership.) All any of us can do is rationally and skeptically read and study the Bible, coming to reasoned, thoughtful conclusions about what the text says. Most important is humility. I may come to a conclusion about what a particular text says, but I am humble enough to know that I could be wrong.

“God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” thinking has called untold harm. The Bible can be a source of blessing, encouragement, and help, but far too often it is a tool of hurt and destruction.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    613 commandments which no one follows in total and which no one attempts to follow. Christians really like to pick and choose these rules.

    I am curious about one thing. The claim is god came to earth in human form to die to fix this sin problem. While he was here he taught people his new Christian theology. Apparently he was a literate human. Why didn’t he write all of this stuff down into a clear text that can be read by anyone? True, many in his day were illiterate and relied on spoken word, but surely god would know that in the future people would be literate and could then read his words?

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    I read this post during a very rare visit to Mr Tee’s blog, and I wondered if you’d to an article about it. I wasn’t disappointed!

    I’ve thought for some time that the whole problem with Christians and their bible is that no supreme being worth its salt would use the written word to communicate its message. The written word is both a fantastic invention and a horrible one, but make no mistake, it’s a human invention. For starters, there are thousands of languages, most of which consist of hundreds of dialects. The bible that Tee reads bears no resemblance to the various languages and dialects in which the various books were originally written, and they themselves were written in different languages than the people spoke on whom the writings are based. Americans and Brits speak a common language, yet books are written highlighting the differences, not just in the words themselves but in their meaning. Tee seems to have no understanding of any language but his own, poor, English (maybe he speaks a few words of Thai, but I doubt it’s more than that) and even less grasp of how only his personal biases lead to his own interpretation of bible texts. If interpretation wasn’t so important then countless millions of people wouldn’t attend bible classes.

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    Bruce Gerencser

    Thiessen’s response:

    “believes that Christians should just believe the Bible as written, and never interpret its words and teachings”

    This is another deception, etc., as it is again putting words in our mouths. We said, go for the truth and follow the Holy Spirit to the truth. We also said that believers need to follow the Bible correctly after getting the truth from the Holy Spirit.

    That is a far cry from what is implied by that sentence. We did not say to accept everything blindly but what we said was, the word of God is not of any private interpretation. That instruction coupled with Jesus’ instruction that we will know the truth means interpretation has no part of the scriptures.

    Even the Bereans set the example of how they searched the scriptures to make sure what Paul was saying was the truth and in line with God’s word. We do NOT interpret but follow the Holy Spirit to the truth.

    “Any time we read something, we are interpreting the words of the text. Words have meanings, and we must make interpretations to determine what written texts mean. Individual interpretations will vary, sometimes wildly so.”

    This is not true and it is not the first time we have encountered this deceptive thinking. This is the problem with the mentality of ‘it is how something is perceived’. That is wrong thinking for how it is perceived means someone is placing their own ideas on someone else’s words and getting the speaker or writer in trouble for saying something they did not say or write.

    We do not interpret, we clarify and make sure we understood someone correctly before drawing any conclusions about what was said or written. There are too many people who use interpretation to cancel, bully, harass, or do other sinful things toward the speaker or writer, that is wrong.

    They need to clarify first before making assumptions or leaps to conclusions. Interpretation is wrong just as leaps to conclusions and assumptions are wrong. If we want the truth we do not do anything. If people want to make life more difficult for others, then they will do those three wrong things and ignore clarification.

    There is more in that post but it ends up with the same result- no one is to interpret. If they do not understand what someone is saying or writing, then they must clarify first before making judgments on the material. Interpretation is not automatic.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Hmm, I wonder what’s up with that?

      I truly didn’t understand his response. All I did was quote his own words. Two of the posts he objected to had no commentary from me. In the third one on dress, I quoted him and responded accordingly. He said I twisted his words. He always says this.

      I’m starting to wonder if Derrick actually understands the Christian gospel of salvation by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9)? I’ve noticed a trend in his writing; that people must give up sins that offend Derrick before he deems them saved.

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        Ben Berwick

        Ah, therein lies the great problem doesn’t it? Quoting him, word for word, linking to his site… all of that is apparently ‘distorting’ what he meant. Funny that. Makes me wonder if he knows what the word distort even means.

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    Ben Masters

    “Theissen demands that people accept that the Bible says this or that. Is he not saying that everyone must interpret the Bible as he does?”

    I would imagine so– I believe that when he is saying “only live by what the Bible says and do not listen to any interpretation or even interpret the Bible,” he means “only live by what I say the Bible says, and if you do not, you’re not hearing the truth of God” (which means the only true preachers of His Word are IFB preachers who believe in the strictness of fundamentalism, and that if your church does not believe in such strictness [which often includes end-time, last days, tribulation and rapture preaching], it’s a false church that doesn’t believe in His Truth or Word).

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    People always interpret language. The brain does this as does the conscious mind. I have epilepsy and before I got the correct drug cocktail sometimes my brain would not understand English, French, or German.
    Interpretations of language are influenced by our previous experiences.

    In history people have used religion to attack each other. The jews destroyed the samaritan temple. Some early christians eliminated the gnostics. Islamic groups sunni and shia hate each other. Obviously catholic and protestants have had wars.

    Some of this goes back to biology. Dr. Theissen is trying to be the top bison bull just like male bison I have seen bison fight in bison lands near my home.

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    I thought the whole point of the protestant reformation (or at least part of the point) was to transfer authority from the priesthood/church to the individual. Translating the bible to the common languages invites the reader to place their own interpretation on scriptures, unquestionably. If Big Dave feels that there’s only one way to read the bible he might want to consider converting to Catholicism pre Vatican II.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    It ‘strikes’ me that Barbara has hit the nail on the head in her observation of bison bulls butting their heads against one another in the endless ‘argument’! Rather than use the Science available, the hammer and nail or perhaps, a counsellor, (to build something worthwhile/useful) Religion chooses to set Science aside as useless in its head-banging: Welcome to Pragmatic Religion 101!
    The so-called doctor who found it necessary to flee America years ago, has said in his March 24th blog-burp,
    “…Scientists just exchange one explanation with another whether either explanation is true or not. That is not a very good system to live by and the Christian is NOT to live by the word of science or scientists. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 4 the following words: 4 But He answered and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”… ”
    Apart from being a dull, blurry comment from the very first sentence, this effort is the classic religious bison stance! Science just exchanges explanations whether or not they are even true! My goodness… Is this Stupidity innate, assumed or reactive? A Christian and in this case a doctor-Christian of sorts, is performing the bison shuffle by wielding as a hammer the nonsense in his first sentence. God’s words are apparently not only instructing him to change his name as he sees fit over time but also to publicly lie about Science. David would do well to study the word, ‘twit’ as it applies to his willingness to spout the things like his ‘scientists just exchange’ sentence. Science does not simply exchange one explanation for another… But David, Religion might though! It has been posited that the New Testament itself is a kind of exchange of one explanation for another! But Oh No, cries the Christian. It’s not another explanation but simply a fulfillment of the original, you see. The old and the new are one! And so forth for centuries.
    The dark closet of David’s brain remains his choice. He might find worthwhile fecundity in Barbara’s observation regarding Biology. The closeted doctor might want to use the darkness of his chosen life to look inward and confront himself rather than endlessly fleeing and bringing up his attachment to drag queens and Almighty Bruce/Ben et al. Come out, Come out, wherever you are, David. Own your life in a mirror. Stop misleading yourself and others.

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    I wrote a long response, but somehow it didn’t save. Oh well. The gist was that every single thing we read is filtered through our own personal body of knowledge, experience, and culture. Everything. You and I can read the same book or essay and take away different elements. That’s evident when reading the comments section on these posts!

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Yep. Think about the occasional, albeit rare, squabbles between commenters in the comment section. These are almost always caused by either careless word use, lack of emojis, or misinterpreting what was written.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    Dear Derrick Thomas Thiessen, Just quick note to remoind you that today is something you don’t want top miss:
    Today marks the second annual National Science Appreciation Day. For one example of why that’s worth celebrating, consider the origin story of ScienceSaves.

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    “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:13).

    Okay, let’s see…does this scripture apply today?
    Do we interpret it literally?
    How are they put to death?
    Stoning? Or some other means?

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      Ben Berwick

      Ah, but we’re meant to remember that the OT has been fulfilled, and apply NT law… except we’re also meant to keep the OT in mind, and now I’ve gone cross-eyed trying to keep up.

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