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The Perspicuity of Scriptures

These last few months have been months of realizing the importance of little words I skimmed over in college, which are highly important in navigating the oceans of life, and of seminary. In particular, this little word “perspicuity” – on it, the whole doctrine of revelation, of God being able to really speak to us in Scriptures, seems to hang.

According to Theopedia,

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture (often called the “perspicuity of Scripture”) teaches that “the meanings of the text can be clear to the ordinary reader, that God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His person and will.” [1] “The witness of the Church throughout the ages is that ordinary people, who approach it in faith and humility, will be able to understand what the Bible is getting at, even if they meet with particular points of difficulty here and there.” [2]

Here is what this doctrine means: when I read the Bible, God can speak to me. More than that, when I have a question about life, I can go to the Bible and find the answer. When I am living in sin, others can use Scriptures to correct me, and when I am confused about a moral topic, a clear presentation of Scriptures will be able to straighten me out. That is what it means.

“But Josiah – everybody believes that! This is so obvious that it is not worth saying!” That is what I thought in college – but out here in the real world, this is simply not true.

The bottom line is that in our day and age, everybody wants to be allowed to make the Bible subject to them. The human mind, we are told, is to be the final authority on politics, on math, on science, on philosophy – so why not on religion? We hate, we balk at the idea of a book which has the audacity to tell us what to do, what to think. And so we have all sorts of clever ways of sounding spiritual, while really setting ourselves up as the arbiter of truth.

Usually, somebody who wants to destroy the authority of the Bible will say something like, “I want to get at the real message of the Bible.” In the words of one church father (Iraeneus?) they seek to “sound more orthodox than orthodoxy itself.” They use metaphors like the “kernel” and the “husk” of wheat, and say things like “Scriptures aren’t really God’s word – they just contain God’s word.” Apparently, the distortions of history, of tradition, of Constantine, of church history, have so distorted and confused Scriptures that without the expert help of this professional, Scriptures will be able to say nothing at all or – worse – will only say misleading, confusing, misguided things. What needs to happen is for the “expert” to cut, tear, and strip away the distortions, to get at “the real gospel.”

Usually this is done by inventing a new Jesus – usually in the scholar’s own image. The scholar will find some proof-texts which prove that Jesus was a certain way, and then they will spend the rest of their time explaining away all of the verses which don’t agree with this version of Jesus. In the end, they will have conveniently created a new religion: at the core is a messiah which they like, and around him there is a religion which is made in his image (thus, in the “expert’s” image).

The really radical Liberals are easy to spot because they tear the Bible apart. They do not even begin to believe that the authors were “men moved by the spirit, who spoke from God,” – rather, they believe that prophecy was an act of human will, and that it is subject to their interpretation 2 Peter. 1:21). They will be very outspoken in their refusal to listen to certain authors (e.g. “Paul is a misogynist – why should we listen to him?!), and to edit others (e.g. the Jesus Seminar systematically edited the words of Jesus, choosing only those ones that fit their Marxist/naturalistic worldview).

The more moderate Liberals are also out there, though, and I am becoming more able to spot them. They too balk inwardly at the idea of a God who actually speaks, who actually has the right to tell them – of all things – how to think. But they are more closely associated with Evangelical churches, and in many cases they really want to believe in God. In a few cases they want to appear to believe in God. In any case, there are a few doctrines that really rub them the wrong way. What are they to do? How are they to shelter themselves from the sharp edges of the Word of God?

The answer is to find an expert who agrees with them.

The argumentation is tricky – so tricky, I think many of the people who use it actually believe they are in the right.

Because they hold Scriptures in high regard, they never come out and say “this passage is wrong.” Rather, they say “The way that the Church has interpreted this Scripture is wrong.” Then they spend a lot of time deconstructing church tradition, quoting authoritative-sounding-sources, and all-around trying to sound smart. Then, at the end, they say, “What Jesus (or Paul, or whoever) really meant was this….” The interpretation which they end with clearly and blatantly contradicts the plain-sense reading of the text. However, after they have so thoroughly muddied the waters, the reader is disoriented and feels ashamed of simply reading the text for what it’s worth. Perhaps “experts” really are needed to interpret this text…naturally, this pseud0-liberal takes this opportunity to present their own interpretation of the text as the authoritative version of “what it really says.” Even though it is far-fetched or even opposite of the plain meaning of the text, they often sound very convincing, if you have sat through their entire argument.

If you want to see this process in all of its ridiculous glory, check out Scott Nameth, who uses exactly this sort of methodology to “prove” that premarital sex is okay. I could not help but think of Nameth when debating about gender issues and the afterlife. Although most “pseudo-liberals” (yes, I just made up that term!) actually land in fairly orthodox places just because they were raised in church, one cannot help but notice that if one has a methodology which allows them to change or ignore disturbing verses to meet their needs, they can just as easily change more serious verses – and even prove the ridiculous notion that fornication is blessed by God.

As I am nearing the end of my M.A. in Theology, I am being continually amazed at the insights and clarity of some of my back-home pastors. One pastor in particular stands out. He never had a post-secondary education, but he has been a missionary for 40+ years, reads the Bible every day, and is a voracious reader of commentaries, concordances and solid exegetical texts. Amazingly, some of the hard-won conclusions which took me several years in seminary to has out, have been simply and uneloquently repeated by this pastor friend. I cannot help but admit that with or without a formal education, I would trust his hermeneutical opinion more than most of the books I read. “By your fruits you will know them,” (Mat. 7:16). Where does he get his education? I can only conclude that he has been with Jesus, and this is education enough (Acts 4:13).

This perspecuity business is not completely clear in my mind. I am still not sure what to do with obviously cultural commands (e.g. head coverings, “holy kiss,” etc.), and how to differentiate those things from the non-cultural items. However, the bottom line is this: I know I’m not all that smart. I don’t want to pull myself up by my own bootstraps: I don’t want to detract from and confuse the Word of God to my own detriment.

If there is no other way to maintain the perspecuity of Scriptures than to dogmatically hold to an ultra literal interpretation, I am willing to go there. However, I think I will be able to to do better than this. As I (hopefully) finish this course on Modern Christianity, I hope to be able to move on to a class in Hermeneutics, where I can sort these issues out more concretely.

I hope to be able to keep the readers of this blog posted as I continue to grow in my understanding of Truth, and how to know Him better.

22 Comments »

  1. My take is that you have just given yourself permission to be cultish. All you need to claim is that some interpretation goes against the plain meaning (what ever THAT means) and you have effectively innoculated yourself from further consideration of an apparently counter-plain-meaning interpretation. I see this as unhealthy and even dangerous.

    Reality sometimes is simple and sometimes is complex, when one simplifies complexity, it does the pursuit of truth no service.

    I highly recommend you find some study that shows the error of just seeking the “plain meaning” today, without knowledge of cultural context, for example.

    There are some verses that have been misunderstood for a loooooooong time, due to a lack of knowledge by the readers. Others are not so hard to understand. There are some words in Scripture that even the experts are unsure about, to claim to be sure in these cases is simply evidence of being ignorant.

    • Don: I jotted down a response quickly, then thought better and disapproved it. Did you get that first post, through e-mail or some other way? If so, I owe you an apology because there was some emotion in those words which should not have been headed your way (I got some tragic news yesterday and was not my normal cheerful happy self…lol)

      You raise a good point, Don. Your point, I think, is that my system appears to have no external controls on it. It is just me myself and I interpreting the Bible for ourselves. Whatever we say goes. You challenge me to differentiate myself from the founders of cults, who have this same methodology. A good point.

      My way of differentiating myself would be to say that I use tradition. That is, I look to the consensus of what most major Christians have agreed on over the millennia, and I also look at what the major consensus is today among Evangelicals, and what my own church and especially my mentors believe, and I use that as a guide. Not that it is infallible, but if I come up with something that contradicts tradition, then I will definitely have to have a LOT of Biblical support for why I believe that, and why everybody else is wrong.

      There are loads of problems with this system, I recognize that. How do I decide who is in and who is out of my tradition? If i am going back to tradition, then aren’t I a Catholic? If I am putting tradition next to Scriptures, aren’t I moving away from the authority of Scriptures? Etc. All good points that I am chewing on.

      My main impetus for writing this post, Don, as you may imagine is our discussions especially under “Piper, Behold now the severity of God.” Positively, I am not exactly sure what my hermeneutical model is supposed to be. Negatively, I know for sure that I don’t have, nor do I want to have, the same model as you have.

      I feel that your model is very “Liberal.” What I mean by that is that you seem to approach Scriptures within a modern framework, assuming 1) that the human mind (yours or others) is supreme over Scriptures and 2) that Scriptures can tell us nothing about metaphysical (that is, “above the physical universe”) reality.

      Because you put the human mind at the bottom of reality, and I put Scriptures at the bottom, our methodologies are necessarily miles apart. This became abundantly clear in our last discussion.

      In our discussion under “Piper: Behold now the severity of our God,” I quoted…um…well, lots of passages. About twenty or so? The point is that it’s not just up to me to decide what the BIble says. The Bible interprets the Bible. Just like you could quote a source by reading what someone has to say and either cutting and pasting a representative quote, or summarizing the content, you can actually do that with the Bible. in fact, this is what we SHOULD do, I think. As a guide, I also referenced people more spriritual and experienced (note: this is different than just being educated) than I am: in this case, John Piper, whose ministry and consistent faithfulness to Scriptures speak for him.

      You, on the other hand, did not quote any passages. You only mentioned passages in order to “explain” (or, in my mind, to “explain away”) their literal meanings. You consistently tried to pull me into discussions of Greek and Hebrew, you tried to undermine the authority of the Church’s interpretation through the years, and you wanted to draw me away into reading some “expert” sources. When you provided such a source, however, it was from an atheist who clearly did not believe in a God who could have inspired Scripture, atoned for sin, or done any of the things which orthodox Christianity says He has done.

      This second point (that Liberals don’t believe the bible communicates metaphysical reality) became especially clear in the fact that even though we were in a post discussing hell, you consistently refused to answer the simple and straight-forward question, “What happens to the soul after death?”

      Are you, even now, able to answer this question?

      A Biblical Christian should have no problem answering this question. In fact, the resurrection is the WHOLE POINT of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:50-55) it is our hope and comfort (1 Thess. 4:18): without it, we are “of all men, most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19).

      As a post-Kantial Liberal, however, I don’t think that you are able to answer this question because you just don’t believe the Bible really is a divine book. You need to go on your own steam, so to speak, and there’s certain things that humans just cannot know. Namely, we cannot know anything beyond the physical realm.

      You call me cultish: I call you Liberal. The root problem is that we think very differently from one another.

      I have much to hammer out in my system: however, I am sure that I will never adopt a method similar to yours. I am realizing more and more that it is our differences on hermeneutical issues which are REALLY the thing which divide us, not the subsequent topics of the afterlife, or gender issues.

    • I almost am getting to expect being called “Liberal” by non-egals, as they apparently are taught by some that being evangelical and egal do not mix.

      What I self-identify myself as is “Scripturalist” after the Karaite Jews, who are Scripturalists but only accept the Tanakh, while I also accept the Apostolic Scriptures as well as Tanakh as being inspired by God. A Scripturalist is about as FAR from being a Liberal interpreter as can be.

      My basic exegetical method is called the Historical-Grammatical-Literary method and the goal of such is to understand the text as an original reader would have done, to the best of one’s ability. This is then followed by the application step which tries to apply the results today; but it is a 2 step process. See Gordon Fee’s “How to Read the Bible for all its worth” for example, where he has a good explanation of this method that is used by many evangelicals. Or John Walton’s “The NIV Application Commentary on Genesis” where he uses this method extensively.

      I do want to warn you that Piper in some places makes some serious mistakes in interpretation, ones that lead to damaging the body of Christ.

      • I would be curious to know exactly where Piper makes mistakes. I am sure that he makes them, but I am just curious what you think they are. Also, I would be curious to know how you define “damage to the body of Christ.” Some wounds are “faithful” (Prov. 27:6).

        Don, the “historical-Grammatical-literary” talks a nice talk, but the more I work with it, the more it seems like it doesn’t walk a nice walk. Or, at least, does not walk a very CONSISTENT walk. I have heard people use it to say that the Bible condemns or condones homosexuality, condemns or condones divorce/remarriage, condemns or condomes fornication, tells us everything or tells us nothing about the afterlife, tells us nothing or tells us everything about the beginning of time…you name it. The issue is that at the end of the day, it is not the SCRIPTURES that have the authority, but the “expert.” After all, I know *I* am not an expert. I am only a lowly seminary student, working on an MA in theology. I barely even know Greek, and know very little (relatively speaking) about the original context of the Bible-writers. …and so I must go to the experts. The problem? EVERY EXPERT HAS THEIR OWN TAKE on what actually happened back then, and how or whether that should affect anything. The answer of course is to go to better and better experts…but what one will find is that THE VERY BEST EXPERTS disagree! This is because the whole concept of being an “expert” is closely alligned with being a scientist in a field, and the two things which Scientists make a living at is overturning previously believed facts, and blazing new trails in previously unexplored territory.

        If the church is staking their hope on such a ragtag bunch as these, it is in a sorry state.

        I hear what you are saying, with calling me “cultish.” I know the “me and my Bible ‘goinna conquer the world” types. How do I differentiate myself from them? Honestly, I don’t know. I know there is a difference, I just don’t know how to write it out in text. That will be a project for the study I am hoping to do soon.

        Somewhere between the approach which allows “my favorite ‘expert'” to define truth, and the approach which allows “my sheltered, uneducated, highly-opinionated and untoucheable reading of Scriptures” to define truth, I hope there is a third option which actually allows God to speak TO ME through His word.

        That is, I hope I can find a way of expressing how He does this.

        As to me calling you Liberal – well you can’t protest about me slinging mud after you just called me cultish, now then can you? ; )

        I am trying very hard not to be vaguely insulting, Don, even though our conversation has turned into tense territory. The best definition of Liberalism which I can come up with is that Liberals: 1) believe that Scriptures are a matter of human opinion, since 2) they are merely relics of the past, written by fallible human authors with no divine intervention. Our method of translation actually matters very much less than how we believe Scriptures were authored.

        Who do YOU think authored the Bible, Don? God speaking through humans, or humans speaking about God?

      • 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
        2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

        2Pe 1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
        2Pe 1:20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
        2Pe 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

        The words we have in Scripture were authored by people but were inspired by God, in some cases recording the actual words of God (from heaven, for example, or from Jesus) but most of the time using the author’s inspired words.

        As the Spirit inspired Scripture, one also needs the Spirit to help understand Scripture; as it is foolishness to an unbeliever.

      • There are really only a few choices, one can choose a rabbi or a church with a Magisterium and let them TELL you what Scripture means or one can accept the responsibility oneself with humbleness.

        Personally, I look forward to the time WHEN I can choose Jesus for my rabbi, I look forward to his explanations of Scripture; as I am sure I will not have gotten it all correct. But until then I accept the responsibility for myself, I own my faith, warts and all. If there are experts that disagree, I try to study all of them. But I believe to qualify as an expert one needs to use the “original reader” method; NOT doing that qualifies one as an amateur as it is essentially a sure thing that an amateur will teleport SOME verses out of their original context, since by assumption they do not know much about it.

      • It’s interesting that you earlier called me “cultish” for having only myself as an authority in hermeneutics. Here, however, you declare that the only way to go is to set your own self up as the authority.

        …but you don’t really believe this. We both agree we must make up our minds on issues, where we disagree is where the authority is. You prefer to lean on expert advice which – as I have watched you now for several months – seems to be exceedingly maliable to your own preferences.

      • I never said you were “cultish”. I wrote that you gave yourself permission to be cultish simply by declaring that some interpretation was not the “plain meaning” (whatever THAT meant). From what I have seen, the plain meaning method is: The Bible says X and if I said X, I would mean Y, therefore the Bible means Y. This totally bypasses the idea of searching for the meaning to the original reader. In many cases it may make no difference but this gives a false confidence that therefore this is a good way to interpret Scripture when it is not a good way.

        I try to learn from everyone, some books or teaching I get 5% out of, some I get 80% or more. There is no one that I agree with 100%, as I own my faith; if I read their evidence and arguments and it does not convince me, then it does not convince me. But there are authors I have learned a lot from and respect a lot.

        I did not start reading egal stuff because I thought it was true or because I wanted to be one, I read it to be faithful to the request of a counselor I respected, but I also read it expecting to repudiate it.

        I also read Torah-observant messianics and I already know ahead of time I disagree with them on the huge subject of the Mosaic covenant being for gentiles; but I do learn some things from them that I do not know where else I might learn.

        I am egal but I also read non-egal stuff and sometimes the non-egal is correct on some aspect.

        It is trivial to read to tickle one’s ears, just read people that you know ahead of time that you will agree with. If you want to search for truth, be a Berean and read those that you do NOT agree with when starting the book or the teaching as well as those you agree with.

      • On Piper HARMING the body of Christ, here is an example of something he said in the past but has apparently removed from his website. I have not seen where he has repudiated what he said, however.

        —————
        So if this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly (group sex or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin), then the way she submits—I really think this is possible, though it’s kind of paradoxical—is that she’s not going to go there. I’m saying, “No, she’s not going to do what Jesus would disapprove even though the husband is asking her to do it.”

        She’s going to say, however, something like, “Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t go there.”

        Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

        Every time I deal with somebody in this, I find the ultimate solution under God in the church. In other words, this man should be disciplined, and she should have a safe place in a body of Christ where she goes and then the people in the church deal with him. She can’t deal with him by herself.

        —————–
        There are websites that discuss how this specific teaching has caused harm to women in the body of Christ. I am appalled by ANY worldview that would come up with such statements on verbal and physical abuse.

        ——-
        If you want to see a total hack interpretation of what the Bible teaches on Divorce, see Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage” chapter 14 and 15. He has very little clue about what texts meant. He is essentially just making stuff up.

        On the the other hand, if you want to get a very good understanding of the cultural background and how it applies to what the Bible teaches on divorce, see David Instone-Brewer’s “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context”. This is a prime example of the HGL method in action and one will learn why some make such a hash of these verses.

      • Well, if this is the worst dirt you can find on Piper, my image of him still stands. I have actually done a fair bit of research on Divorce, and I don’t think Piper is being irresponsible. Out of the ordinary, yes, but not irresponsible: there are solid reasons for his position, that remairage is never an option for a Christian, while their spouse is alive.

        I don’t think his quote on women submitting is theologically inappropriate, but I can definitely see how someone who is not reading very closely could interpret this as “I need to stay and be abused” (this is not what Piper said, even in this short clip) and I can just imagine how that quote “she endures perhaps being smacked one night” has been endlessly and ruthlessly proof-texted by Piper’s detractors (for this reason I can see why he would take it down)…but overall, I don’t see what the problem is here. Piper has said that spousal abuse is unacceptable, and that the solution is always for a woman to get out of the situation, and for the man to be disciplined.

        Like I said: if this is the worst dirt that can be found on Piper, then my very high opinion of him is validated.

      • Covenants and therefore divorce is one of my focus areas of Scripture. I see covenant making and sometimes breaking as the backbone of Scripture.

        It is not that Piper does not have people who said the same or similar things before him. On the subject of divorce, there is a WIDE range of teaching on what the (supposedly) clear teaching of Scripture teaches. By far, the most errors are made by misunderstanding the cultural context of what was said; and by far the way the most errors are made is by wearing a Greek hat when interpreting Scriptures written by those wearing Hebrew hats. Once you take verses out of their cultural context, you can mangle them to mean almost anything and this is what Piper does in this area, as do many many others.

        If one studies Instone-Brewer one can see why this is so very easy to do, the basic reason is ignorance of the cultural context. To put it another way, Piper (and others) thinks a text means X when it actually means Y. When he does that enough, he ends up very far away from what the Bible teaches. And when people do this, the result is not loving or freeing or redemptive.

      • You seem to be putting your own opinion/cridentials pretty high. What degrees/education do you have? Just curious.

      • I do not think much of credentials.

        Php 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
        Php 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ …

        I see the harm of some taking the Bible out of context. It is the harm caused to the body of Christ that I oppose.

        As I wrote before, if one studies Instone-Brewer one can see wny and how Piper makes mistakes, this is because Instone-Brewer gives his evidence that explains the cultural context of the NT verses and also how they have been misinterpreted in the past.

      • What counts is the evidence and the arguments used in a discussion.

        Credentials do not mean that the person’s arguments are good and no credentials do not mean the person’s arguments are false.

        Jesus had essentially no credentials and Paul had lots of them.

      • P.S. I did not say you were cultish, I said that (as far as I could tell at the time) your exegetical method GAVE YOU PERMISSION to be cultish. That is, it was an implied question about how did/do you see your method (what is often claimed to be plain meaning) NOT being susceptible to becoming cultish. All you needed to do to reject some interpretation was to claim it was NOT the “plain meaning” of Scripture, whatever THAT meant.

        FWIIW, I do believe there WAS a plain meaning to most Scripture (some prophecies were not plain meaning), and this is what an original reader would have understood it to say. So seeking the plain meaning to the original reader I see as a worthy task.

  2. I’ve been reading your posts with great interest for awhile now,partly because I’ve been thinking similar stuff,just not so eloquently.Question:Can Christianity and postmodernism coexist longterm?Are they compatable?In Rome,emperor worship could not coexist with Christianity because they could not agree on who was Lord. Now, Christianity and postmodernism cannot agree on what is truth.Is it possible that believers must confront this zeitgiest(sp?) rather than coddle it? Would love to sit and talk over some of Merle’s coffee sometime.Maybe later this summer?

    • Anytime! Do you have my phone number? I see we are friends on Facebook, so we can connect that way.

      I’m afraid that I don’t know about postmodernity nearly as much as I am beginning to learn about modernity. So far as I understand it, postmodernity is Modernity taken to its logical conclusion. If “we” are the center of knowledge, then knowledge is impossible. It’s all fine and well for me to say “I think, therefore I am…” but without God in the picture, there is no way of saying that my opinion is right and yours is wrong. We only have zillions of perspectives, and no truth. Once again, Science – the creation of Christianity – is in jeopardy without a Christian foundation.

      As usual, there are those Christians who are going to do their job and try to meet the postmodern where they are at, and reach them with the unchanging gospel (e.g. Mark Driscoll), and then there are those who think that the gospel is too outdated and antiquated for the postmodern, and they want to change it and edit it to fit within the postmodern sensitivities (e.g. Brian McLaren). The first option is always a good idea – the second never is.

      By the way, did you read my post “Apologetics, the traitor’s art”?

      Anytime you want to do coffee, though, bring it on! I would love to take this sort of a conversation into the real world!

  3. Hi Josiah-
    I’m just curious how you came to the conclusion that head coverings and the holy kiss are “obviously cultural.”

    Jim and I have been studying the covering lately, and I have found it interesting that in the 15 or so commentaries we have read, not one of them mentions this as being a strictly first-century church practice, or interprets it as a cultural practice that no longer “applies.”

    Just interested in your perspective…

    • Oops, you’ve caught me! I haven’t actually studied that one really deeply.

      I’m going to get back to you on this one.

  4. The original Reformers were clear on what THEY meant by their claimed perspicuity of Scripture. What THEY meant was that what is needed for salvation can be figured out from Scripture, contra the Roman church’s claim that one needed their church to do so. The Reformers also agreed that other passages of the Bible were not so clear. This is the meaning of perspicuity that I agree with.

    But for some reason this idea has been extended way too far by some teachers. And the result is as I wrote above, the result is people read the Bible and when it says X they ask if I today said X, I would mean Y, therefore the “clear meaning” is Y. And this can be a total hack sometimes as it ignores the cultural context in which the Bible text was written.

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