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Tag: Interpretation of the Bible

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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Bob the Baptist Says: I Don’t Interpret the Bible, I Just Read It and Believe What it Says

you might be wrong

Countless Evangelicals claim they believe that every word of their inspired, inerrant Bible is absolutely true. In their minds, every word in the sixty-six books of the Protestant Bible is straight from the mouth of God. Thus, when they read the Bible, there’s no need to interpret it. God said it and they believe it! End of discussion.

If this notion is true, why, then, do Evangelical believers have such differing beliefs? Not only do their beliefs conflict with those of non-Evangelical Christians, their “infallible” beliefs are often at odds with the beliefs of their fellow Evangelicals. If there is ONE Lord, ONE Faith, and ONE Baptism, and all believers have God, the Holy Spirit, living inside of them acting as their teacher and guide, why all the differing beliefs? If all one needs to do is to read the Bible to find God’s truth, why do Christians hold a cornucopia of contradictory beliefs?

Suppose, for a minute, that a person living on an island came upon a copy of the Bible. This man has never been exposed to Christianity. He has never heard about the Christian God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Would this man naturally come to the same beliefs as Evangelicals? Surely, if all one needs to do is read the wonderful, matchless Holy King James Bible to find God’s truth, shouldn’t this man come to the same conclusions as a Bible college-trained Evangelical preacher?

If all one needs to do is read the Bible to find “truth,” then why the need for pastors, teachers, and Bible college professors? If a man just needs to faithfully and diligently read the Bible to find truth, then why do pastors spend three to seven years in college learning how to properly study and understand the Bible? Why do pastors buy Bible commentaries and other theological books to help them with their studies? In fact, why do pastors preach sermons at all? If the Bible is truth, why not just read the Biblical text to congregants? Straight from God’s mouth to their ears, right?

The fact is, the moment a person starts reading the Bible, he is interpreting the text. There’s no such thing as just reading and believing. The mind of every Bible reader is conditioned by the religious beliefs held by his culture, family, and church. So, when he reads the Bible, he is filtering its words through the beliefs, teachings, dogma, and interpretations of others. There’s no such thing as naked truth, especially when it comes to the Bible. Its text has been interpreted and reinterpreted for thousands of years. What one generation of Christians believed is often not what a different generation believed. Evangelical preachers love to think that their churches are just like the churches of first century Christians. These promulgators of ignorance believe that First Baptist Church in Podunk, Mississippi is exactly the same as the churches founded by the apostles two thousand years ago. To the uninitiated, this kind of thinking sounds absurd, but having grown up in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, I can tell you that such thinking is common. IFB preachers love to think that their churches are “old-fashioned” congregations. In their minds, “old-fashioned” means their churches are patterned after early New Testament churches. What it really means, however, is that their churches are like congregations were in the 1950s.

Here’s the truth: God’s “truth” is actually man’s interpretation of an ancient religious text. Beliefs are, at best, educated opinions. At worst, beliefs are opinions of poorly educated dunces who think of themselves more highly than they ought. I am at the place where, when a Fundamentalist Christian says to me, THE BIBLE SAYS _________, my response is, So what? All you are doing is expressing your opinion.

This is why the best way to engage Evangelicals is to attack the nature of the Biblical text itself. When Evangelicals speak authoritatively, their foundation is not as strong as they think it is. This is why they need a plethora of presuppositions to prop up their house of cards. The Bible is God’s Word, Evangelicals say, because the Bible says it is. The Evangelical deity is the one true God because the Bible says he, he, and he is. The Evangelical God created the universe 6,023 years ago because the Bible says he did. Humans are sinners by nature because the Bible says they are. All these “truths” are KNOWN by unbelievers, so there is no need to prove them. Atheists and their ilk live in denial of these “truths.” In fact, there’s no such thing as an atheist because everyone KNOWS the Evangelical God is the one true God. Atheists suppress what they know to be true, or so the thinking goes anyway. The only way to effectively reach Evangelicals, then, is to challenge their infallible interpretations of the Bible. We must become like the Devil in Genesis when he said to Adam and Eve, Yea, hath God said? Are you sure God said what you believe he said, Baptist Bob? Once doubt is sown in their minds, then, and only then, are they ready to critically examine the Biblical text.

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Bruce Gerencser