Recently a preacher raised the question: “Can we all understand the Bible alike?” He declared that we cannot, and asserted that those who believe that we can are simply misguided. However this preacher was dead wrong.
I am glad you ask.
Your Understanding, My Understanding
The claim is frequently made: “You understand the Bible one way, and I understand it another way. Neither of us should condemn the other.”
Another variation: “Well, that is your interpretation of the Scriptures, I have mine as well, perhaps both of us are right.”
These statements contain a logical contradiction. There is no such thing as “understanding the Bible differently.” If two people differ on the meaning of a biblical text, one of them is wrong about the matter—possibly both. We might misunderstand something differently, but we do not understand something differently. A passage does not yield two different interpretations; somewhere, there is a misinterpretation.
Can God Make Himself Understood?
We operate daily upon the presumption that we, as frail mortals though we are, can make ourselves understood to our peers. Let me explain:
A department store places an advertisement in the newspaper about an upcoming sale. Hundreds of people flock to the same establishment on the correct day at the right time expecting specific items at a certain price to be available for purchase.
Question – How is it that they all understood the ad alike?
A recipe is printed on a cereal box for oat bran muffins. Hundreds of women and men across America follow the recipe printed on the box, and they all bake delicious muffins for their families. Do they, or did they understand the instructions alike? Or
A physician prescribes a certain medication. Do we believe that the pharmacist at the drug store will understand what the doctor has prescribed; are we confident that we can understand the instructions for taking the prescribed medicine?
If we can sensibly operate our lives on a routine basis, recognizing that we are able to communicate with one another in an intelligible fashion, why can’t we acknowledge that God, who is infinitely wiser and abler than man, can clearly make His Will known to all mankind?
If one suggests that God could not clearly make himself known to man, he reflects upon the power of the Lord. If one argues that God purposely did not reveal himself to mankind in a lucid fashion, he reflects upon the benevolence of his maker. If one contends that man has no responsibility to understand and obey the precepts of the Scriptures, it is he who shows great ignorance of his obligation to Heaven.