We’ve just come to the end of June, nowadays considered in our culture, “Pride month”. Now, suppose that tomorrow at work you get into a conversation on a hot-button cultural topic like LGBTQ+ issues or the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade. As a Christian, you state your thinking on the subject from Scripture, only to hear what many of us have heard before, “That’s just your interpretation!”
Hmmm…now what do you say?
It’s a common refrain nowadays, because of the influence of postmodernism, the spirit of the age. In fact, those in the church are often so steeped in this thinking that the comment sometimes comes from those who consider themselves Christians.
No matter who it comes from, it can leave us dumbfounded; and we tend to easily throw up the white flag, with, “Yeah, I guess so.”
Postmodernism is a way of thinking which leads to doubt about most everything. Terry Eagleton says postmodernism produces a “paralyzing skepticism”, and so we begin to wonder, “Can we know anything?”
For Christians, this gets especially dangerous regarding Scripture; if we can’t know what the Bible says about clear matters like the topics above, how can we know about equally clear topics like…how to get to heaven?
So…what answer should you give?
Well, first it’s important to know what the person is really saying, and then in fact to point it out to them. As D.A. Carson shows in his excellent little piece, “But That’s Just Your Interpretation!”, what they are claiming in the moment is that you cannot have a sure interpretation because you do not have perfect knowledge, and thus to really know something requires God-like knowledge.
But intuitively, you and I know that’s wrong, because no one has perfect knowledge about anything – only our Creator does. And we don’t need perfect knowledge to know that David is claiming that there was true human life in the womb (Psalm 139:13, 14).
Nor do we need perfect knowledge to understand what the Apostle Paul was saying about sexuality (Though progressive Christians allege Paul was only talking about same-sex relations outside of “gay marriage”, or that he was only speaking against pederasty, it’s telling that non-Christian Greek scholars don’t agree. Such scholars will likely say they have no personal opposition to an LGBTQ+ lifestyle, but still they know from Paul’s writings that he thought differently. See Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Who’s your mama?
So… next time you hear “That’s just your interpretation!” from someone, suggest that their mother might be a Russian spy.
Of course, they will laugh and say, “Are you kidding?”
To which you should reply, “Well, she might be. For instance, do you know what she is doing every morning at 3 a.m.? That’s when she’s probably getting her communiques.”
An honest response will be along these lines: “No way, I know my mom – and though I tend to be sleeping at 3 a.m., I know she’s a tried and true American, a lover of our country. She’s certainly no spy for Putin!”
In other words, they admittedly do not have perfect knowledge about Mom, but still, they know your interpretation about her…is wrong.
Postmodernism thinking dominates much of our life in the West, and many are tempted to subconsciously believe they can’t know anything with certainty. But believers should know differently, and we need to articulate this if we are to serve the Lord Jesus well. For He is the One who prayed…
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 (ESV)