Gender Gender

Is there wrong way of reading Bible?

Can we help? with PASTOR & MRS BANDA
DEAR pastor and Mrs Banda,
I am a student from Sweden. I have recently been to Zambia on a field study with my school. Now I am writing my final project about religion and female empowerment in Zambia.
During my work, the writings of Pastor and Mrs Banda have helped me a lot.
Now I am wondering if it would be possible for you to answer my questions:
• Can the Bible answer every question?
• Is there a right way and a wrong way to read the Bible?
• What do you think about what the Bible says about women?
• What do you believe is the biggest difference between men and women?
• Can and should the Bible be used to empower women?
Dear Marie,
Thanks a lot for your kind words and for your questions.
Can the Bible answer every question?
The Bible was written for a specific purpose. It answers all questions that fall under the category for which it was written. It was specifically written so that human beings could come to know God. The Bible explains how to find salvation, how to rightly relate with God and fellow men, and about man’s eternal destiny. It reveals the origins of the universe, and of man.
John 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.”
The Bible was not written to serve, for example, as an academic textbook for science, although it gives us directions on how we can relate with science. Neither was it written as an academic textbook for history, although it contains many historic facts. After showing us how to make peace with our Creator, it shows us how we can live our lives to the full by walking in the wisdom that God gives us in His word.
Psalms 19:7-9: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
Definitely there are right and wrong ways of reading the Bible. Here are some wrong ways:
• Ignoring the biblical context, that is geographical, historical and cultural. All the Bible writings have a context in which they were written. In interpreting the Bible, we must fully take into consideration the context from which the author was writing.
• Ignoring the biblical authors. Each biblical author is unique and has a different style of writing, which must be taken into consideration when interpreting their writing.
• By passing the divine author. It was God who moved men to write the Bible. This is what makes the Bible the Word of God in the fullest sense. We must not read it in the way that we read academic books or novels. We need to seek illumination from God. God the Holy Spirit must assist us to understand the mind of God, otherwise we risk interpreting the Bible wrongly and going astray.
Psalms 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
In addition to the above, an American Bible teacher by the name of Joel James talks about two specific wrong approaches in interpreting the Bible. He calls them the allegorical and the Holy Spirit approach.
• Allegorical approach: An allegory is a story whose characters, events, or other features have hidden, symbolic meanings. Some Bible readers, however, want to interpret the whole Bible allegorically. To do so, they bypass the clear, historical meaning of the text, and make imaginative associations between something in the text and something from their experience or beliefs.
• The Holy Spirit approach: Some Bible readers read a passage and make an unstudied guess at what it means, believing that the Holy Spirit will guide them to the right interpretation without study. They ignore the historical context. They ignore the sentences and paragraphs around their passage. They ignore what the passage meant to Moses, Mark, Paul, Peter, and God – the human and divine original authors. They believe that whatever comes into their minds as they read the text is the right interpretation.
Next week, we will answer the remaining questions, which have to do with the Bible and women.
Injuring each other emotionally is as bad as injuring each other physically.
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