Do We Each Get Our Own Interpretation of Scripture?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Darrell and I were talking today about people who claim that one interpretation of Scripture can be no better than another.  Or, put another way, we can’t know what the correct interpretation of Scripture is, so we shouldn’t debate it.  To each his own interpretation.

My sense is that people who say this in the midst of a discussion of a Bible passage feel trapped in an argument they can’t win, and this is their escape hatch.  If they relativize the Scriptures, making the meaning completely subjective, they get to keep their interpretation of Scripture and deflect anyone who disagrees with them.

This is the same tactic some people use when they are in a debate about a particular immoral behavior.  When they feel trapped, they say something like, “There is no objective morality any way.  Everyone decides for themselves what’s right and wrong.”  Again, if they relativize morality, then they no longer have to defend their position and they get out of an argument that they aren’t winning.

The real irony here is that the very people who relativize the interpretation of Scripture actually do believe that their view is objectively correct.  If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t have been debating in the first place.  They would have just agreed with everything their opponent said, because, after all,  everyone can have their own subjective interpretation of Scripture.

It seems to me that the best thing to do when someone plays the “relativism card” is to help them see that they really don’t believe what they are saying.  Remind them of some of the core beliefs that they have derived from Scripture and ask them if those beliefs are objectively true.

If they are honest, they will stand by their beliefs.  If they refuse to claim that their cherished beliefs about the Bible are objectively true, it’s probably time to move on, because they are more interested in saving face than having a conversation of substance.  Come back to them when they aren’t so defensive.

  • Chris Russell


    Good words.

    To answer the question, no.

    We are to preach the Truth whether in season or not (II Tim 4:2.) And if Truth is a person, Jesus (Jn. 14:6,)then outside of a relationship with Him, a person cannot understand. For “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Co 2:14.)

    And interestingly Paul says before this,

    “For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
    Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
    but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
    but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
    Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
    But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
    He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
    so that no-one may boast before him.
    It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”(I Cor. 1:17-30.)

    I am not ashamed of the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation: first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. (Ro. 1:16)

    Therefore, if truth be propositional is it informational in nature or transformational in nature?

    And if transformational what is the vehicle/agent- the means if salvation be the end?

    I would suggest that it would be (from the perspective of the person being acted upon) subjective and relative while still being propositional. However to approach scripture from a perspective of subjective relativism would mean the Spirit is not the agent that is, our objective reality (Truth) for He is the Spirit of Truth.

    Thanks for the thought lanes! Make a High-way into others lives, brother!


  • Bill Pratt

    Great to hear from you! Preach on, my friend.

  • clarence puckett

    I will stick to the textus receptus bible[1611 KJV]
    revised means changed, proverbs 30:6 explains it all.
    The last 50 years, several thousand bibles have turned up; are we to assume they can be trusted ? I will take the original text any day, it can be trusted.

  • margaret

    Agree, not all interpretations are the same. It’s tough when someone is so off base yet Scripture cannot be opened and reasoned together in love when the person is very angry and staunched on their view…yeap, then we need to walk away. 🙁

  • clarence puckett

    We don’t get our own bible interpretation; we choose our own out of the piles of revised versions and likewise choose to be deceived; there is an interesting book written named ” lets weigh the evidence” by Barry Burton; still available after over 30 years or so, just google, order and read the differences many so called bibles have in scripture, the bible is a spiritual book and I have to believe the God who said it all is fully able to protect his word over thousands of years, but if you are open to any and all bibles, then you are open to deception.

  • Carlyle Vaughn

    Chris. I like what you have said. Just to add to the support of what you said, Jesus said; Lean not, on your own understanding. Do not be wise, in your own opinion.

    The Holy Spirit, is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, I, am the Way, the Truth And the Light. Jesus clarifies that in another place, It is My Father’s Way! The Truth, that is in Me, is the Holy Spirit! His Name is Truth! And the Light is Life.

    When Jesus Died on the Cross? It was the Death of His Flesh. The Spirit Held up the Cross, for the World to see and Believe. The Spirit was the Seed that was placed in Mary the Levite Mother. The spirit can not die EVER, neither can yours or mine.

    And the proof of the spirit living forever? For those who do not believe in Me? Jesus said; I will come as a Thief in the night. And I will cut you in TWO!! And give my portion (the spirit), to (Satan) and the hypocrites.

    For those who die, and do not believe in Jesus? He doesn’t want your spirit. It belongs to Satan.

    Of all the teachers in the World? None of them can reveal the Parables without the Holy Spirit. And when He reveals certain Parables to you and reveals those same Parables to me? We both will agree with each other, because the Spirit has Revealed them!!

    If the meaning of the Words written in the New Testament? Are the meanings of the Words that the Lord taught us. It has nothing to do with the language, that He or we speak? As long as the meaning is the same. I tune out — when a minister tries to explain a word in the Greek or Hebrew language. I’m not going to learn Greek or Hebrew, to understand what that fool is saying. Carlyle

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Clarence,
    The Textus Receptus is not the original text. It was an English translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts that were available to the translators at the time. Since then, we have discovered hundreds more manuscripts, some that are older than the manuscripts that were used to translate the Textus Receptus.