I must admit that I have become pretty turned off by most theological things. At one time I was deeply embedded in theology and studied it on almost a daily basis. But after several years at it I discovered that, like the original Bob Newhart TV show character did about psychology, that theology is pretty much a crock! 🙂 Of course the business of theology is pretty much interpreting scriptures.
Many of us get carried away with “interpreting” scriptures. We take a message that says one thing and try to turn it into something else or in some cases we might take add a few words to make it mean exactly what we want. This post is sort of aligned with the one about mining tidbits in scriptures but in my mind intentionally misinterpreting the words to fit a particular agenda, as some seem to do, is even more harmful. I think much of this, especially by the amateur theologian, is a very innocent practice. We read the words and automatically think it means one particular thing. So, we add a word or two to make that meaning clearer. Much of this “adding words” is innocent in nature but some of it is very intentional and not for noble purposes but more for self glorification.
When I personally look at Jesus’ words I try to take them for what they say, not necessarily what I want them to say. In some places I am disappointed that he didn’t go on to say something a little clearer to me but I am not about to intentionally put words in Jesus’ mouth! If anyone has the ability to say what he means it surely was Jesus.
I must admit that when I read the words of Jesus in totality, and I do this on at least a semi-annual basis, he spends too much time talking about the kingdom of heaven and other such things for me. Since I am an altruist through my soul I want him to say more about “the least of these” and being “my brother’s keeper”. He does speak often about that but not enough for me. Some of Jesus’ words just don’t make much sense to me, at least at this stage of my life. I know there are a myriad of theologians out there to “help” me with those areas. I certainly know that there are many who are more wise than I am but in reality I’m pretty sure most are just guessing as I do.
I try very hard is not to add words or change the meanings of what Jesus says to fit my particular agendas. I pray that I will always become aware when I might be trying doing that.
3 thoughts on “Reading Too Much Into the Words…..”
Two men who I turn to for spiritual guidance make two points consistently. Point #1 is don’t take a verse out of context to make it mean what you want it to mean. That includes the context in the Bible and the historical context of when it was written and for what audience (Jews, Romans, new Christians, etc).
Their second point is equally important: if I say something that expresses a personal conclusion or interpretation about Jesus or God they will say, “where in the Bible does it say that?” This focus on what is written versus what we would like to have been written is very effective in keeping one’s theology on target.
But how can a person determine what the words mean, if they are forbidden to speak about them. Are we to take the word of theologist, the churches, and mainstream religions, when they can not even agree among themselves.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 14:25-26 (KJV)
Please explain to me the general accepted (mainstream) meaning of all the words in John 14:25?
Anonymous (Servant), I’m not sure who is forbidding you from speaking about the words of Jesus but no I don’t think it is necessary to believe everything the theologians or the mainstream establishments offer. But in some cases we can learn something from them. I still read several and they help me firm up my personal beliefs.
If you want to learn more about our interactions with the Holy Spirit I suggest you pick up some books by Quaker authors. They seem the most knowledgeable in that area.