Summary: This sermon illustrates eighteen ways the Bible can be misinterpreted. Recognizing these fallacies will help us interpret correctly.
Have you ever been presented a doctrine you disagreed w/ only to have them
quote a vss. which seems to support it.
Just as there are rules for grammar, math, and science - so are there
rules of interpretation.
HERMENEUTICS - the rules for Biblical interpretation.
1st rule - Context.
A vss. can be in context and misinterpreted.
1) CONFUSED DEFINITION (Within the Church).
Benny Hinn - Adam could fly.
He had "dominion" over the animals.
He could do whatever they do.
Could he also lay an egg like a chicken ?
Could he spin a web like a spider ?
Could he run 60 MPH like a cheetah ?
We must understand each term in scripture to interpret correctly.
2) ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION
What does esoteric mean ?
There is a hidden meaning only the "enlightened" understand.
Emanuel Swedenborg - The Church of the New Jerusalem. (Wayfarer’s Chapel).
Heaven and its wonders and hell On Matt 24 - "The ’sun’ there that is to
be darkened signifies the Lord in respect to love; the ’moon’ the Lord in
respect to faith; ’stars’ knowledge of good and truth, or of love and
faith; ’The sign of the Son of man in heaven’ the manifestation of Divine
3) WORLD VIEW CONFUSION
World view - A set of assumptions we hold about the basic make up of our
world, culture, customs, traditions, and settings.
World view confusion - reader interprets the Bible in their own cultural
framework instead of the one in which it was written.
ACTS 14:8-18 Their world view was polytheism.
4) VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION
Virtue by association - something is good because it is related to
something that has established credibility.
The Mormon book "Doctrine and Covenants" gains credibility by imitating
the language of the Bible. "...In the beginning the word was, for he was
the word, even the messenger of salvation - The light and redeemer of the
world; the spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was
made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men"
5) INADEQUATE EVIDENCE Non sequitur fallacy.
Too hasty a conclusion is drawn from too little evidence.
Jehovah’s Witnesses use Acts 15 to support their argument that we should
not have blood transfusions.
"Some persons may reason that getting a blood transfusion is not actually
’eating’. But is it not true that when a patient is unable to eat through
his mouth, doctors often feed him by the same method in which a blood
transfusion is administered ? Examine the Scriptures carefully and notice
that they tell us to ’keep free from blood’ and to ’Abstain from blood’.
(Acts 15:20,29). What does this mean ? If a doctor were to tell you to
abstain from alcohol, would that mean simply that you should not take it
through your mouth but that you could transfuse it directly into your
veins ? Of course not ! So, too, ’Abstaining from blood’ means not
taking it into our bodies at all".
Why is this wrong ?
1) Faulty analogy. Evidence that eating blood = transfusion ?
2) Blood doesn’t function as food. (not digested).
3) How could the Bible prohibit something that wasn’t invented until
centuries later ?
Overspecification draws a more specific conclusion from a text than is
In Science and Health Mary B. Eddy interprets Gen 1:1 as follows :
"The infinite has no beginning. This word ’beginning’ is employed to
signify the only - that is, the eternal verity and unity of God and man,
including the universe. The creative principle - life, truth, and love -
is God. The universe reflects God. There is but one creator and one
creation. This creation consists of the unfolding of spiritual ideas and
their identities, which are embraced in the infinite mind and forever
reflected. These ideas range from the infinitesimal to infinity, and the
highest ideas are the sons and daughters of God"
7) TWISTED TRANSLATION :
A biblical text is retranslated, not in accordance with sound Greek and Hebrew scholarship, but rather to conform to the preconceived doctrines of the interpreter.
The Watchtower and Tract Bible Society translates Phil 1:21-23 as though it teaches the doctrine of soul sleep.
(New World Trans.) “For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is the fruitage of my work – and yet which thing to choose I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things: but what I do desire is the releasing and being with Christ…”
Phil 1:23 (NKJ) “For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.