Scripture is God’s written word. The Bible provides a deposit of faith and a foundation for God’s communication with His people. It relates the story of humanity’s fall, God’s love, humanity’s redemption and the future. It provides guides, commands and stories. Some books are separated by hundreds of years and relate to different audiences. Some stories are historical, others are parables, while still even others present poetry and prophecy. While humans wrote it, it is nevertheless a guided work by the Holy Spirit with the intention of brining humanity closer to God.
However, when misinterpreted, misused, it can bring pain and suffering to the world. Individuals can use the words of the Bible to misguide, misdirect and lead others astray. When Scripture is not properly interpreted and presented to the believing community, it can lead many towards the road of heresy. While some can take individual inspiration from the Word of God, it is important to understand the nature of Scripture and its purpose.
Scripture can be a great resource in Christian Counseling, but Christian Counselors, pastors, ministers and priests must be well versed in Scripture and its essence to properly guide and preach it to others.
The article, “3 tips to help you read the Bible well” by Chris Goswami looks closer at understanding Scripture from avoiding a few basic mistakes. He lists how others have used past books no longer relevant to the message of Christ as justification for physical violence, as well as understanding that while Scripture is written by God alone, certain books have certain audiences and certain messages for particular times. These messages cannot be taken out of context, unless one looks to go astray. He states,
“Paul sometimes offers an instruction that made sense in that day but may no longer apply to us. This one is tough. It’s really hard to distinguish between cultural norms and eternal truths, and churches have disagreed and split on these topics. They include the lengthy debates churches had first on divorce, then the role of women, and now sexuality.”
“3 tips to help you read the Bible well”. Chris Goswami. 24 October 2022. Premier Christianity.
Please click here to read the entire article.
As pointed out Scripture can be confusing. It teaches one common objective and eternal law, but it can be misinterpreted, misquoted and put out of context for different people and different times. It is because of this many individuals can misused Scripture and utilize it for propaganda. This was seen throughout the history of the Church and even today, as extremist groups use the Sacred Word to promote hate and division.
Literary and Textual Criticisms of the Bible are Important
While personal interpretation is a freedom for many believers, one should never assume such vanity and pride but look to those better trained in Scripture and those who represent orthodox teachings on the faith. Scripture represents the bed rock of the faith and is the primary deposit of the faith. Sometimes, with some review and understanding of the teaching of Jesus, one can clearly see when Scripture is being misused.
It is important to realize that various literary criticisms of Scripture are utilized to better understand the human element of its authorship. These literary criticisms can help others better understand the human author, his or her intent, and his or her audience. These types of themes then can be understood within their historical context. This is not to assume morality changes within history but it does help individuals understand the social norms and history of the time and how the words relate to the time and audience.
It is also extremely important to understand what type of book in Scripture one is reading. While it is true, Scripture is a collection of divinely inspired authored texts by one divine author, it is also true that the books span thousands of years, and deal with a variety of situations. Obviously the books before Christ and the books after Christ have a different message in human redemption history. Many books have different purposes as well. Some books may be poetic or moral, while others historical, or others relating to prophecy. Understanding the various natures of the books help one also understand what type of literature one is reading and how to properly digest the words.
Those who hold to literal quotes also should be very careful. Scripture, as it is handed down, is in itself a miracle. For it to have maintained such integrity is inspiring but if one considers that the printing press did not exist until the 15th Century, then one can see the numerous copies upon copies that were handed down. In fact, no original of any book exists to this day. Hence, one relies upon the copying abilities of the ancients in replicating the Sacred Word of God, as well as their abilities to collect and put together and edit books.
In addition, beyond even the element of copying, is translating. Scripture has been translated from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek to Latin and to numerous romance languages. With so many translations, some words can lose power. It is hence important to understand the message of a verse, but to also understand certain elements of it can be lost. This type of textual criticism and history of the text itself can lead to many resounding discoveries about original intentions of the various books.
When interpreting, it is important to understand that the words we have come from this long and arduous process. Still even so, the words themselves must be studied within context. How was the particular word understood then, how is it different now, or how was it applied throughout the entirety of not just the book but the collection of the books themselves. Understanding precedence of the use of the word and its utilization is key to applying or not applying to today.
Discernment and personal prayer are key in understanding Scripture. While one must keep one’s interpretation in line with the authority and tradition of the faith, discernment as a process helps guide the believer to avoid false pretenses and ideas about one’s understanding of Scripture.
Receiving the Bible as we have it today is a miracle in itself even beyond its Divine Inspiration. While it’s primary source and authorship is from the Holy Spirit and tells a certain story and communication between God and humanity, it still nonetheless is a collection of communications through human hands. Through this, interpretation and translation can be difficult.
While Scripture is a beautiful gift that presents to humanity the story and love of God through Jesus Christ, it can equally be misused by individuals with their own intentions. This is why Christians must not only know Scripture, but also know its history, its meaning and interpretation. Listening to good Church leaders is a key way to avoid the pitfalls of false prophets who can misuse the Bible.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling. Christian Counselors can play a pivotal role in properly utilizing Scripture and helping others interpret it properly. The Bible can be an immense tool in helping others live good lives according to the will of God.
“What is textual criticism?”. Compellingtruth.org. Access here
“Hermeneutics: The Eight Rules of Biblical Interpretation”. Apologetics Index. Access here
“Interpreting Scripture’s divine element”. APRIL 27, 2021. Unpacking Dei Verbum. Access here·
“Interpreting Scripture: A General Introduction”. Jason S. DeRouchie. The Gospel Coalition. Access here
“Divino Afflante Spiritu”. Pope Pius XII. 1943. Access here