The Bible Does NOT Mean That! – Episode 3


Here we are with Episode 3 in my series called “The Bible Does NOT Mean That!” The goal is not to tell you definitively what the Bible does or does not say. The goal is to talk about how we can look at the Bible with intentionality and understanding. Since it is God’s revelation to humanity it’s not supposed to be filled with secrets locked away to all but the elite. It’s designed to guide us ALL!

The problem is that many of us are simply never taught how to read it.

So today we’re talking about hermeneutics (her-men-oo-tics): the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation. It can be used with interpreting anything, really, but is often used when we talk about interpreting the Bible.

The other day I published a post about Feminist Theology and how it damages the text of Scripture. While there is a spectrum of thought within Feminist Theology, most of the thinkers within the movement tend to move away from affirming the authority of the Bible.

Long story short, I upset some people who thought I was marginalizing feminists. One went so far as to tell me:

There isn’t a singular interpretation of any religious text. It’s a 2000 year old comic book in my eyes. To say one reading is holy and another reading is “destroying the bible” is the most ridiculous, selfish, onerous thing [you] can say.

But here’s the thing. There is only one meaning to a text. Fee and Stuart say, “The Bible can not mean now what it never meant then.” That means that the author’s original intent is the foundational guideline for understanding any given text.

“What does this mean to me?” is not a valid method of interpreting a text. How I respond as a reader is not as important as what the author was trying to say. The author’s meaning is what we need to be looking for. In that sense, then, there is only one meaning to any text.

There are, however, multiple applications to a text. Era, culture, technology, and other elements all play a role in how a text is applied to our lives today, but the original meaning never changes.

In that regard, theologies that attempt to skew the original meaning of the text, whether they be feminist, liberation, systematic, whatever…all damage the text when they set aside the original intent in order to pursue their own agendas.

So the next time you read the Bible, the first question need to ask is, “What was God trying to say when this was first written?” Only then can you follow it up with, “How can I work to apply this to my life?”

Related Posts:
The Bible Does Not Mean That! – Episode 1
The Bible Does Not Mean That! – Episode 2

How to Destroy the Bible: Reading Through Feminist Eyes


One of the enduring fights among the faithful is the “proper” role of women within Christianity. People really get heated when they talk about it. I have made no secret how I feel about women in ministry. You can get a pretty good understanding of my view in my post, “Skirts in the Pulpit.”

But even though I support women in ministry, I cannot get behind feminist theology that views every single biblical story as a story of oppression and abuse.

Case in point: a Twitter account popped up not too long ago that seeks to tell the story of every woman in the Bible through a feminist lens. I like the concept of telling the stories of people whose voices are not always heard. The problem is that the feminist lens falsely colors the stories and the new interpretation does damage to the text of Scripture which, in all honesty, is actually a sacred text that contains a high regard for women.

I have never written a blog post about a specific Twitterer before but I guess there’s a first time for everything, so let’s look at a few of these feminist renderings of biblical women with a few comments. Then let me know what YOU think.

This one interests me. Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was praying desperately for a child. When the priest, Eli, saw her lips moving but couldn’t hear her voice, he thought she was intoxicated (see 1 Samuel 1:9-18). So the feminist lens judges Eli as being misogynistic.

I take issue with this for two reasons:

1) Eli isn’t concerned about her gender, only about her appearing intoxicated before God. Once Hannah explains the situation Eli replies, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him.” Yup – he’s a real woman-hater. 😐
2) When Jesus’ disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, some who overheard sneered and accused them of being drunk. Peter has to stand up and say, “We’re not drunk. It’s only 9 a.m.!” In both stories gender isn’t the issue. The issue is the appearance of drunkenness.

The feminist re-interpretation damages the text.

How about:

This tweet assumes that there is something wrong with these women being remembered as the mother/grandmother of Timothy, as if they are being slighted for not having a more fully-developed story.

The problem is that there are many names in the Bible – men and women – who are only given a brief mention. How about Simon the Cyrene? How many Christians actually know who he is without looking him up? He’s the man who carried the cross of Jesus but he only gets one sentence. Just because the Bible doesn’t give pages and pages to a biblical character does not mean that the character is ignored or slighted. The feminist reading is creating a false dilemma.

The feminist re-interpretation damages the text.

Okay, just one more, because the tweets are starting to get my blood boiling…

In the ancient world, carrying on the family line was of extreme importance. When Sarai couldn’t give Abram children, Hagar (an Egyptian slave) was taken to be a surrogate mother in order to provide offspring. Later on, Hagar and her child were removed from the family and sent into the wilderness. It is a tragic story, to be sure.

The problem is that it’s not misogynistic violence against women. From beginning to end, Sarai is the one who mistreated Hagar. It was Sarai’s idea to use Hagar as a surrogate. It was Sarai who asked to remove Hagar and Ishmael. The feminist reading doesn’t admit that it is a WOMAN who is mistreating Hagar. It plays fast and loose with the text, ignoring certain elements in order to make the case for the Bible promoting female oppression.

The feminist re-interpretation damages the text.

The Bible illustrates many women who are terrific people of faith: Deborah, Jael, Huldah, Anna, Mary, Junia, Philip’s daughters…and on and on. So why go to the trouble to make up these problems? It’s about promoting a non-biblical agenda rather than reading Scripture honestly.

Don’t make up stuff in the Bible just because you have an axe to grind.

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