In Response to Frank's Question
"We have at this moment, more than 33000 denominations in Christianity today. A large number of those denominations were formed because they believed that their interpretation of the Bible is the correct interpretation. Now, assuming that the bible is inspired by God, why do you suppose that God chose to allow the Bible to be written in such a way, that the most intelligent scholars and theologians, and even the most devout christians could honestly interpret the Bible in hundreds, yes even thousands of different ways. What was the grand purpose behind that move."
As the Scripture was written in order to communicate something (truth) to its targeted readers, the meaning of the Scripture is therefore intended and defined by the authors of the Scripture and not what the readers wished it should be. So why didn’t God inspire a Scripture that will have absolutely no dispute over its intended meaning for any reader who even bothered to pick it up and read?
The reason, I think, is because that couldn’t be done without God having to violate our freedom to think freely on our own. What is meant is that any information, be it verbal or written, still requires our interpretation, even this one. Think also of Eve’s response to God’s straightforward command in the garden. Since it is subjected to our interpretation, it is therefore prone to different interpretation by different people. And in cases like the cults, it’s a case of misinterpretation by twisting the Scripture.
Having said the above, we do not need to feel desperately lost among the different interpretations in the marketplace of ideas. Since the Scripture was written to convey certain information and not hide them, the good news is that the plain things are the main things and the main things are the plain things. Therefore, the more important question we should ask ourselves is whether the difference hinges on any essential doctrines (soteriological implications). It should also be stressed that most, if not all, differences are over non-essential issues within the christian community.
Assuming that God is able to inspire a Scripture that can be interpreted in only one way, without having to violate our freedom, the following in my view may be possible reasons behind that move.
1. Humility. Since honest and fallible christians disagree honestly, no one can honestly say that he is 100% certain and infallibly sure that he has the correct interpretation for all part of the Scripture. While we can be convinced and convicted on certain issues especially the essential ones, we could use some humility instead of dogmatism especially on non-essential issues.
2. Reliance on the Holy Spirit. As we are fallible creatures which affect our reasoning power and logic as well, therefore we cannot only rely on using our logic chopping axe. There is a need to reply on the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit reveals would not be contradictory to logic. Interestingly, the fact that God chose to use human vessel in the process of inspiration, indicates that we need the same Person who inspired the Scripture to guide and lead us to a complete and deeper understanding of the same Scripture.
3. Mutual edification towards maturity. If the Scripture is so absolutely clear like an instruction manual, there is a higher tendency to live a text-based life without having a relationship with God and others. Precisely because everyone has something different to contribute, the fullness of the Body is expressed through diversity. Love, patience and discernment among other gifts, will also or should be developed through the interaction and discussion with others as iron sharpens iron. It is part of a growing process to maturity in Christ.
4. To reveal our hearts and motives. Take the Cash, Porsche and Paris for example, because one wants them badly (okay, it’s just me!), somehow I will want to interpret that Frank really meant what he said and rationalize that he has the resources from his recent sales of Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church to distribute the prizes to everyone! Is the justification rationale or am I not having faith? So whether I take Frank seriously or not, it will reveal much about me. So back to God’s straightforward command in the garden, it shows that any information no matter how simple and clear we think it is, is ultimately subjected to interpretation driven by our hearts and motives (i.e. are we being objective?).
5. It speaks of the infinite richness and fullness of Christ. Since the Scripture testifies and points us to Christ (God), and that God is infinitely richer than our wealth of ignorance, it comes no surprise that we find ourselves struggling to describe about Him in one or two mere words. But when we start expanding on them using precision engineering, we sometimes confused ourselves at the end of the day.
6. Multiple applications. While only one interpretation does not restrict multiple applications, multiple interpretations surely encourage more diverse applications than the former. And of course, one can have a right application while maintaining a wrong interpretation (over non-essential issues). Hopefully, it’s not about having a wrong application from a right interpretation. However, it’s not wrong to have a wrong application from a wrong interpretation, since it is rightly consistent.
PS: The figure 33,000 is grossly overstated since it included others such as Gnostics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and even 242 Roman Catholics “denominations”.
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