What Does It Mean To Me?

Here is an excerpt from the gospel tract booklet:

A Funny Illustration

Imagine a man preparing to study his Bible on Saturday. He sits in his cozy, blue recliner chair, grabs his leather-covered Bible from the coffee table on his left, sets it in his lap, and puts a blindfold over his eyes. (That’s right, a blindfold.) Without the distraction of his eyesight, he begins to use his other senses to study the Bible. The first thing he does is smell it. He discovers the scent of dust and the smell of an old book. Then he rustles though the pages to hear the sound of flapping pages, flowing back and forth over the book. After that, he touches the cool, smooth ripples of the leather cover.

Finally, he licks the book to discover the taste of paper and dust, which he had smelled before. Remembering all the wonderful things that people who have studied the Bible have said about it, he shuts the book, takes off his blindfold, and places the Bible on the bookshelf not to open it again for another week.

The next day, the man goes to church, gets up on the stage, holds up his Bible, and gives praise to it. Launching into an inspirational sermon, which he claims is from Scripture, he wanders off into his wild imagination and expects people to listen to what he says. Why does he do this? He feels that the Bible is a big dusty, ambiguous book, that has no relevance to his life. He feels like he can’t understand it, so he’s going to interpret it by how he feels.

You might say this is a ridiculous story. No one should listen to this man because he does not know what he’s talking about. You would be quite right in saying so; however, this is exactly what many people do when they read the Bible.

Instead of a blindfold, though, they use their own opinions and ideas and insert them into the Bible. This is just as bad as reading the Bible blindfolded. It’s what is called eisegesis, aka the reader response method. This fancy Greek word means “to insert one’s own idea into the text.” Basically, this method implies that it doesn’t matter what the author originally intended for the text to mean. All that matters for interpretation is what the reader wants it to mean or what he “feels” it means.

There are other ways this could be illustrated. If someone takes the laws of the road to mean whatever they want them to mean, they would get many traffic tickets or worse. If someone interprets a prescription dosage to mean whatever they want it to mean, they could die of an overdose or take too little to help their condition.

The bottom line is that if you interpret the Bible however you want to, you will not get to the truth; and not getting to the truth can have dire consequences. None of us like it when other people insert their own meaning into what we’re trying to communicate. We shouldn’t do that to God!

To get the full argument just purchase the e-booklet on amazon.com. It’s only $1.75!!!

What Does It Mean To Me: A Pocket Book Guide to Biblical Interpretation by [Nichols, Josiah]

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