Can the Bible Be Understood … or Not?

It never ceases to amaze me when individuals argue that a Christian’s interpretation of the Bible is subjective (and therefore dubious) while simultaneously appealing to their own interpretation as being correct in order to make their argument. Case in point:

Atheist: So, you are wrong, because there are many other Christian churches besides the odd Westboro who really do have a better idea of what Jesus meant than YOU do. It’s only your opinion – just as it is Westboro’s opinion that they can determine what Jesus meant.

Westboro, for those of you who are not familiar, is the home of the infamous Fred Phelps and his “God Hates Fags” crew. In this case, the atheist in question was arguing that there was no way for the Christian she was debating with to know whether her view of the Bible was any more accurate than the interpretation of those at Westboro Baptist church. After all, (as she told the Christian), any interpretation of the Bible is subjective – “it’s only your opinion – just as it is Westboro’s opinion that they can determine what Jesus meant.”

What is most interesting in this discussion is that just a moment earlier the atheist claimed that there are “many other Christian churches besides the odd Westboro who really do have a better idea of what Jesus meant” than this Christian did. This is where the atheist undercuts her own argument.

She first states that there are other Christian churches who have a more accurate idea of what the message of Jesus was. But since the message of Jesus is found in the Bible, and all interpretation of the Bible is supposedly subjective (merely opinion), how could these other churches ever know if their idea of the message of Jesus was more or less accurate than anyone else’s? Worse yet, however, is that the atheist is implying by virtue of this assertion that she herself knows what the message of Jesus was, else she would not be able to compare Westboro’s interpretation, or the interpretation of the Christian she was writing to against to the “idea” (i.e. interpretation) that these “other Christian churches” have!

In short, if one chooses to believe that all interpretation of the Bible is mere opinion, then one has no foundation to stand on in arguing that any given interpretation is “better” or “more accurate” than any other. Of course, this fact will never stop people from doing just that.

BK


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