There are many topics in medicine that are polarizing, eliciting erudite and impassioned arguments from experts on all sides of the issue. Fetal tissue research. CRISPR gene editing. COVID treatment. Pick these or many other topics and one will be bombarded by articles written by thought leaders in the field immediately followed by articles written by equally renowned and qualified experts, completely refuting the claims. Who is correct? Unless one has a medical background, it is difficult to arrive at a definitive conclusion, and even with a medical background, the discussions are sometimes bewildering. There is no gold standard. All one can do is review all the available information and decide which position seems most credible.
Some people believe interpreting the Bible is the same. Theologians, pastors, and scholars have written thousands of pages giving their interpretation of different passages and concepts. When there is no consensus, critics hurl accusations that the Bible cannot possibly be the inspired Word of God when there is so much confusion and dissent over how to interpret a Bible passage. A fundamental principle in Bible interpretation is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture; the Bible interprets itself. In other words, when one attempts to discern the meaning of a passage in the Bible, it must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible. By adhering to this, many seemingly confusing issues may be resolved. Yet, many are unwilling to do this.
Blaise Pascal, the great Catholic philosopher and mathematician, bluntly described the problem. “[Unbelievers] think they have made great efforts to get at the truth when they have spent a few hours in reading some book out of Holy Scripture, and have questioned some cleric about the truths of the faith. After that, they boast that they have searched in books and among men in vain.”
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, provides the supreme example of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.
Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
Matthew 5:17-18 (NLT)
Many who listened to the teachings of Jesus thought he was a heretic and blasphemer. When Jesus spoke the words cited above, He was preaching the Beatitudes, found in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). Jesus quoted passages from the law of Moses, found in the Old Testament, then elevated the teachings to a new and deeper level. He did not contradict the earlier passages but built upon them. If His listeners took the time to search the Scriptures, they would understand this Truth.
With knowledge of the world, like medical opinions, there is no gold standard. There are interpretations that may be contradictory and yet have equally compelling reasons to support opposing positions. All one can do is to review more studies which generates even more conflicting opinions. With God’s Word, it is always internally consistent. Scripture must interpret Scripture. If there are passages we still do not understand, we do not need to seek other opinions. It is not because God’s Word is incorrect. We are finite minds attempting to understand an infinite God and an absolute Truth. We need to dig deeper into God’s Word and ask His Holy Spirit to give us understanding and consistency in interpreting God’s commands.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.