License

I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why isn't the Bible easier to understand?

Lets begin by saying that I don't know the answer to the question of the title, anymore than I know why Christ didnt come into the world until hundreds of years after the Israelites, under the judges and the kings, had proved pretty conclusively that humans wont keep the Mosaic law very well, or at all. Im not God. He understands what He is doing. If part of what He has done is to include some passages in the Bible that arent very clear, then He has a reason, whether I understand it or not.

Most anybody can understand the most important thing in the Bible, namely the sin problem, and its solution through Christ’s death, and resurrection. Also, much of the history in the Bible is as understandable as US history is. But everything in the Bible, even some of the history, and some of the theology of redemption, isn
t very clear. Some of the reasons for that that are understandable are given below.

Why hasn’t God made everything that clear? Here are some possible reasons why some parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand. They don’t all apply to all parts of the Bible. Different parts may be different for different reasons.
1) Language differences and translation problems. The King James Bible has done a lot of good, but language has changed since 1769. (Most people don’t know it, but the 1611 version was updated in 1769, mostly to update spelling changes.) Try another version if you don’t understand the one you are using. That applies to modern versions, too. One of them may clarify something that another does not, at least for you.
2) Cultural differences. The Bible was written for us, and speaks to us. But it was also written to speak to people in Biblical times, who were more likely to be engaged in agriculture than we are. They wore different clothes, they ate different foods, their courtship and marriage, and other customs, were different than ours. They were ruled by kings. Women had a subordinate place. Thus, many of the parables of Jesus, and other passages, have nuances that we don’t grasp, without considerable help.
3) There are some things described in the Bible, especially in apocalyptic and prophetic literature, that were impossible for the writers to describe with full accuracy, since the readers (and writers) had experienced nothing that really compared. See Ezekiel 1. In 28 verses, Ezekiel used “like” or “likeness” about 18 times, indicating that he had to make the best comparison that he could. “Like” occurs over 150 times in Isaiah.
4) We may base our interpretation on a single verse or passage, without taking the rest of the Bible into account. If we do that, no wonder if the interpretation doesn't make sense.
5) We aren’t God. Some things are just too difficult for us to understand. If I really understood string theory, or differential equations, (I don’t) no matter how hard I tried, I probably couldn’t explain them to you in a way such that you could understand. Think how many things there are that God understands, and we don’t!
6) We aren’t as spiritually mature as is necessary to understand some things.

7) We may be failing to recognize that at least some Biblical passages were apparently meant, by God, to have more than one meaning. See this post on the first four prophecies about Jesus, in Matthew.
8) We aren’t on God’s side: Matthew 13:10 The disciples came, and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them. 12 For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand. 14 In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says,
‘By hearing you will hear,
and will in no way understand;
Seeing you will see,
and will in no way perceive ... ‘ (World English Bible, public domain)

Christ went on to explain the parables to the disciples.


Thanks for reading! I hope you understand as much of the Bible as God wants you do, and that I do, also.

No comments: