Some things in life allow for multiple interpretations, each of which may be valid. For instance, dreams, paintings by Da Vinci, song lyrics, the Constitution…and the actual winner of the Cal/Stanford game from 1982.
However, there are also some things in life that have only one correct interpretation.
Case in point, the humble speed limit sign. The simple black and white signs aren’t up for interpretation or discussion…regardless of how much we may wish they were. How ridiculous would it sound for us to say to the cop that pulled us over, “Yeah, I thought 55 could also mean 68.” He’s not buying it; heck, you don’t even buy it! That’s because speed limit signs only have one correct interpretation.
Another example is a medical prescription. When you’re sick, the doctor evaluates your symptoms, pronounces a diagnosis, and then writes you a very specific prescription to treat the disorder. You then take that prescription to the store so the pharmacist can fill it for you. How ridiculous would it be for the pharmacist to say, “You know, the doctor called for 250mg of Prednisone, twice a day, for 10 days. But I think you just need 125mg, once daily, for 5 days.” The pharmacist doesn’t have the right to reinterpret the doctor’s orders. That’s because prescriptions only have one correct interpretation.
But the best example is the Bible. In spite of what many people think (and teach), the Bible only has one correct interpretation. The Bible means what the Bible says, point blank! We don’t get to decide what the Bible means. We don’t get a license to (re)interpret God’s Word however we see fit.
But in spite of this simple truth, many people are content to believe that the Bible has multiple interpretations that are equally valid. For instance, in Bible studies, we hear the seemingly harmless question asked, “What does this verse mean to you?” (Do we really think the verse will mean one thing to him and something else to her!?) This question is also really popular: What does this verse mean today? (Ummm…I’d say it means the EXACT SAME THING it meant when it was written 2,500 years ago!)
The truth is simple: the Bible means what the Bible says, and the Bible says what the Bible means.
Topics Illustrated Include:
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)