For the life of me, I can't remember where this came up recently. It was either a discussion I had with a friend, something I internalized from a book I'm currently reading, or a thread I came across on social media. Wherever it was, and whoever it was that highlighted the foolishness of this phrase, it bears repeating.
If I asked a Christian to name the most often abused, misrepresented, perverted passage of Scripture that they encounter in their dealings with a lost world, I feel confident the answer would be nearly unanimous:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1)
Of the last 100 times you saw or heard that statement of Jesus mentioned in the public square, I'd estimate it was used contextually and accurately maybe once.
While a proper exegesis of that verse is a topic for another day, I'm curious about those popular phrases not found in Scripture that too often worm their way into our collective consciences to the point where we struggle to distinguish what is biblical admonition and what is the product of man's counterfeit wisdom.
There are plenty of examples to choose from:
- "This too shall pass"
- "Cleanliness is next to godliness"
- "God helps those who help themselves"
- "The right side of history"
As inane as all of those become under any kind of reasonable scrutiny, I don't think any of them are as dangerous as this increasingly popular one that unquestionably comes from Hell's war room:
"The Bible is inspired by God, but your interpretation of the Bible is not."
This phrase has surged in popularity during an age where the enemies of God's word have shifted from directly denying its authority to cleverly watering down its doctrine to the point of meaninglessness:
- The creation account is just poetry, not history.
- The parting of the Red Sea is an allegory.
- The idea the virgin birth was due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for young woman.
- Paul's instruction on church leadership was full of his own opinions and cultural biases.
And when you point to the explicit instruction of Scripture to object to the obvious false teaching associated with each of those deceptions, what do you hear in response? "Well the Bible is God-inspired, but your interpretation isn't."
What seems on the surface like an important reminder for believers to retain humility in recognizing our own fallibility and selfish desire to read Scripture in a way that affirms our own predispositions and preferences, is actually a thinly veiled attempt to neuter the Bible's application to our moral condition.
Simply take a skeptical approach to that phrase and consider the alternative it demands:
"I understand the Bible to teach that sex outside of marriage is immoral, but that is merely my interpretation so I can't submit to the teaching because I can't be sure that's really what it means."
Who thinks that way? Who honestly believes that it is our duty as Christians to not live according to what we understand the Bible to say? It's honestly the most anti-intellectual approach to Scripture and basic common sense imaginable.
Of course it is true that man has, and will continue to err in his understanding and interpretation of some portions of Scripture. That's the entire point of hermeneutics, the wisdom in letting Scripture interpret itself, and the prudence in learning how the first-century church understood disputed passages.
My favorite college professor would often remind us of Paul's assurance to the Corinthian church that "for now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face." The mysteries of God are yet to be fully revealed to us, and complex moral dilemmas still arise in our fallible, flawed, mortal minds. But my professor would admonish us that while those situations are the result of seeing through the glass darkly, we must never forget that we still see through the glass.
Truth is knowable, it is discernible, it is applicable, and it is perfect – our only sure guide and solid foundation for building a meaningful existence on earth. I'm beyond confident that conclusion is not just my interpretation.