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Featured How to interpret the christian Bible?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Meandflower, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

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    How to interpret the christian Bible?

    I believe the Best way to interpret the Bible is to interpret it in a loving and kind way. Why?
    Because it is written in the Bible that God is goodness, love, justice

    And in the Bible the greatest commandment of God is:

    Matthew 22:36-40
    6 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Therefore I believe the logical conclusion is to is to interpret the Bible in a loving and kind way. And a loving and kind God care most about peoples heart and our actions, not which religion we follow

    What do you think about this? Any thoughts?
     
    #1 Meandflower, Apr 18, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  2. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    I agree that a loving and kind God cares most about virtues, not which religion we follow.

    But I also believe it is truthful to say that the ancient men who wrote the Bible did very much care about which religion we should follow.

    So I could not read a loving and kind God back onto the text of the Bible because in my opinion the two are not fully compatible.
     
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  3. Marcion

    Marcion Self-realisation and Service to the Universe

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    For me the best way to interpret the Bible is to split up all of the texts according to who their original author was and to try to get into the mind of that original author, how he himself thought and not a later redactor of that piece of text. This is called exegesis.

    E.g. the separate gospel stories and the separate Pauline epistles are each patchworks of texts that originated with different authors who thought in different ways.
     
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  4. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

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    I agree not all the texts in the Bible is loving or kind. But the Bible is not 100% God's word. There are human errors in the Bible. Several of the men who have written the Bible have from time to time been wrong about what God is like and what God wants.
     
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  5. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

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    Good advice:blush:
     
  6. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    There's the safety net....
     
  7. Meandflower

    Meandflower Active Member

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    What do you mean?
     
  8. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    For me, best way to interpret any text, literary, religious, historical or whatever, is to approach it with an open mind and an open heart. And to allow the text to speak to you directly.

    Of course it’s also helpful to take guidance from others. Especially when reading texts in translation; but it’s my belief that true poets and writers speak the language of the heart, and that’s a fairly universal language.

    I generally look for poetic truth above literal truth, in any work of literature. The books in the Bible to me are no different to any other work of literature in this regard. But that’s just me - well, not just me; it’s an approach advocated by the visionary artist and poet William Blake; see All Religions Are One for his concept of the Poetic Genius as the voice of God, or Holy Spirit.
     
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  9. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    That's an important point towards understanding the Bible. The word in God's Word is human. Unless we choose to believe that God dictated and audibly spoke words to those who penned. What 'truth' did the author intend to convey, and what was the vehicle used to convey that truth, narrative, poetry, story, myth.
     
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  10. nPeace

    nPeace Well-Known Member

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    (1 John 4:8) Whoever does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.
    To love, one must know God. Would that mean, one must understand the Bible in order to interpret the Bible?
    It seems humility is required to understand what is explained in the Bible, so that we can learn what love is, because it is from God.
     
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  11. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    The fact is that not all “logical conclusions” are created equal. If one assumes that all cars are pizzas, it it logical to conclude that the best cars are those equipped with anchovies.
     
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  12. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    Jesus pretty clearly spells out what it is to love, Mt 25 : 31-46
     
  13. It Aint Necessarily So

    It Aint Necessarily So Well-Known Member
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    I believe that the best way to interpret any document or piece of literature is critically, that is, to consider and evaluate its words dispassionately and consider any relevant context and other pertinent evidence open-mindedly. One has to be able and willing to evaluate all relevant evidence properly, that is, by applying valid reasoning to the evidence with a willingness and ability to be convinced by a compelling argument.

    Loving and kindness don't come into it, just as they wouldn't if I were attempting to interpret the Iliad or The Exorcist, and actually act to undermine critical thought as I'll explain.

    Or perhaps by kindness you mean interpret scripture charitably, which is different to me than either loving or kind. If so, I agree. That's included in the dispassionate or impartial mindset required for critical thought. To be uncharitable is to see the worse possible, to assume the worse of two or more possible interpretations of the evidence.

    Consider a skeptic's claim that two scriptures are contradictory. What is the proper frame of mind to consider that claim and the evidence supporting it? Kindness isn't a factor. Fairness and accuracy are. What do the words seem to say? Are they mutually exclusive if taken at face value? If yes, is there any missing context that shows that one of them actually means something other than what it seems to mean absent that missing context. it's not enough for others to simply claim that something is taken out of context; they need to do what is suggested here and show the context that changes the apparent meaning.

    But if they can do that, they may have a defense of the claim of contradiction. If not, sorry, but these are contradictory scriptures. Open-mindedness is the ability to draw such a conclusion if the evidence supports it even if its not how you hoped things would turn out. What place does kindness play in such thinking? None.

    Maybe what you mean by kindness is the willingness to see things in a way that promotes the claims of Bible believers, to try to see that maybe that a particular prophecy isn't failed after all, or two scriptures only appear to contradict one another, or that act by the deity that seems cruel is actually loving, or that a given passage only appears to be an error of science or history. If so, that's not dispassionate analysis, and it subverts reasoning and critical thought to do so.
     
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  14. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    There is no way in a single post to express my thoughts succinctly enough, but if you have compassion and can see it in others that will help you.

    Don't project evil intentions onto the authors. If their intentions are evil their works are not kept. No one would bother tot take such care.

    Scripture writers are not automatons or cavemen and use figures of speech as well as literary devices which are not in use in your own language. It is common that other language use different literary devices, so don't be surprised when it happens.

    Parents sometimes lie to children in order to teach them truth. Some of the scripture may be intended as an aid to fathers teaching their children, since in the law the fathers are commanded to teach their children. You may find yourself reading a parable without knowing it. Ask what is the goal of this text, what is it trying to teach me, not "Is there evidence that the Ark came to rest on Mt Ararat?"

    Laws are the most important core of scripture, not stories. Laws must be kept. Stories may be discussed. Its a good idea to consider the events in stories and to ponder whether the actions taken are legal and why.

    Different authors sometimes experiment with different ideas about God. Job explores the question of why/how/whether bad things happen to good people, while Deuteronomy promotes the idea that good things happen to good people. Judges tells the story of a lawless world; but first and second Kings are mostly a depiction of the evils and failures of the dynastic kings, casting doubt upon their value.

    When studying the Christian scriptures never doubt you are an imposter. You come from a violent culture, from a culture quick to go to war and to kill. The stories of violence in your past are endless. You come to these scriptures with no standing. You are as a barbarian dealing with stolen materials which you took at knife point. This is true of each book in the Bible, including the Christian ones. The books don't trust you, and most of the time they are right not to. When was the world not at war? When ever did this world not suspect peaceful people of being weak and useless or spies or traitors, and when has this world ever let them be? So the books view you as an imposter, which you probably are.
     
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  15. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    place yourself as EACH character displayed

    if you can do this.....you will learn SOOOOOOOOO much more
     
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  16. nPeace

    nPeace Well-Known Member

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    May I ask then pearl, how many of us have looked after those sick and in prison. Have you?
    How many naked ones have you clothed pearl?
    You don't mind my asking, I hope?

    @pearl I was wondering, do you agree with me that we need humility to learn the love that is from God?
     
  17. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    No where as often as I should. But if I named the little I do, you'll probably accuse me of a lack of humility. Like many of us I support prison reform, give to food and clothing programs, but what Jesus calls us to is to encounter the person. While physically able I did volunteer to sit with hospice patients. We each have our way of answering what Jesus asks of us. I agree 'we need humility' in order to experience God's love.
     
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  18. nPeace

    nPeace Well-Known Member

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    So you don't show love always? [​IMG]

    Seriously though, it is good that you think of the needy, and give where you can. [​IMG]
    However, if you are going to use the scripture as you did, then there really can be no room for 'have not done'.

    If you believe Jesus spelled out clearly what love is there, then you are under obligation to visit those sick, and in prison; clothe the naked; feed the hungry; and give the thirsty something to drink.
    Do you agree?

    On a more serious note though... Why would Jesus say of himself, 'I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25:35, 36)
    based on people of all sorts - murderers, rapists, prostitutes, God haters, and liars - being in those situations, and then turn around and not show mercy to those who failed to do those things, but instead condemn them to eternal punishment?
     
  19. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    I think it has to do with recognizing Jesus in every person we encounter. There is a delightful little children's book, 'Where love is there is also God', which illustrates the same idea. The shoemaker has a dream that Jesus will visit him the next day. Again he dreams how disappointed he is because Jesus never did visit him, and in that dream the faces of all the people he helped that day, and Jesus saying 'It was I'.
     
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  20. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    I would add, that we aim to interpret all that [who] we encounter “in a loving and kind way”, not just the Bible. ;)


    Humbly
    Hermit
     
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