Bible Interpreting, Presuppositions, and of coures "Homosexuality"

To get an idea of why this was written, go to
This is a response to a response.........pretty cool.

Wow Bri, that was a lot to take in from you; I enjoy printing out your e-mails and sitting down with a highlighter and studying them. If you were around me when I do this, I am sure you would get a kick out of it. Typically I begin by highlighting your main points and then move on to words that I need to research before I respond back. This one was not near as bad as your last one in which I asked the Lord to just take me home when I was done reading it. Ha-ha. He didn’t; I guess he wanted me to respond instead.

Anyway, here I go.

I want to first tell you that I do appreciate your openness to share and your ability to get me thinking. A lot of the people that I have conversations with about the topics we are discussing usually do not have much thought behind their opinions. So I appreciate your desire to study through this.

I will respond to your post by addressing the issues in this order.

The bible.
Interpreting the bible

Pertaining to the bible, we have kinda gone through this but I will touch on the different translations and interpretations. Instead of defending the translations and different interpretations I will share how I approach scripture in study. I think that by doing this you will understand my views.

Because of the 3 original languages that the bible was written it is impossible to translate its exact meaning into 1 translation. For over three hundred years the King James Version, published in 1611, was the prominent translation used in most Protestant churches. However, as the English language continued to change, it became increasingly more difficult for people to understand the Old English vernacular. Faced with the obvious need for our society to understand God’s Word, scholars sought to update the scriptures into more contemporary language.
Dr. Lewis Foster, one of those who helped translate the NIV and the NKJV says, “It is necessary to continue making new translations and revising old ones if people are to read the Word of God in their contemporary languages.” The Old Testament was authored in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek. While the original autographs no longer exist, translations are made from ancient manuscript copies, of which there are today at least 24,000, whole or in-part, with which to compare.

An English version of the Bible did not exist until a little more than 600 years ago. Before then, a version translated into Latin by Jerome in the fourth century, called the Latin Vulgate, was the most widely-used Bible translation in the middle ages. Anyway, while I still believe that the original manuscripts were the inspired words of a Holy God; that being said 4000 years will make understanding his work not as easy as picking up a translation and reading it. I am not saying that the bible is unclear; instead I am saying that it takes study to get an accurate understanding. I am sure that you can appreciate that. Its like when sometimes I read your responses, I have to go back and translate some of your words into a vocabulary that I can better understand and digest.

So, this is where all of this leaves me. When I am studying scripture I do my very best to try and understand the following things:

1. What does the text say? 2. Originally what was said compared to what I initially interpret when I read it in my translation? 3. What was the context in which this was written? 4. Who was the author, who was he writing to, when was it written, why was it written? I try to get in the authors shoes. 5. What does this mean for me? 6. How do I apply to my life what I am understanding?

As you can see, I am a little less fanatic than most would think. I really try to get to the root of the scriptures. Now, that does not mean that in my study I will never come up short of God’s original intentions and meanings. You are right in thinking that we come to text with presuppositions. My goal is to fight through those. Obviously that is a near impossibility.

In response to your claim that “Whatever factors brought you to religion (family, friends, community, etc.), were powerful enough to instill a lasting belief structure within you. Now that these beliefs are fully integrated into your thought process, the momentum generated by your reflexive brain will make it extremely difficult to step back and be truly objective.”

I try very hard to take an objective approach to my faith. But again, like in our previous conversations, it is near impossible when it is so personal. Now, if I was in your shoes, and it was all informational, being objective would be a lot easier. If you don’t remember what I mean to this you can refer back to an old blog

Pertaining to homosexuality. You made a comment that the bible doesn’t speak as clear to homosexuality as it does as say “idolatry” Good observation however, I would disagree. Idolatry is the worship (making sacrifices for, dedicating yourself to, or putting in the position of glory) of anything other than the God of the bible - Romans 11:36-12:1. So if that is the case, ultimately any type of sexual sin which is not approved in scripture is really idolatry. That goes for adultery, fornication, or homosexuality. It is all the same, none in that category are any worse than the other. That being said, I do not think that the sin is the fact that homosexuals are having sex outside of marriage. In marriage or not, the sexual relation is the sin. To take that further, Jesus said that the lust of the mind is the sin. I (remember “I’ am basing my opinion on what I view the scripture are saying) do not think that homosexual relations is what God intended. Nowhere in scripture do you find one situation where you see any type of homosexual relationship talked upon as being approved and blessed by God. You would think with all of the sex talk (and there is a ton) that if this was acceptable to God, he would make at least one comment about it. Instead you see just the opposite, you can find a number of verses that both directly and indirectly condemn homosexuality. If you would like the references, let me know.

Again, thanks for your views. I value them more than most would that stand in similar shoes as I. Keep racking your brain, but as always I would ask you to soften your heart. God is not interested in your brain; he is interested in your heart. Like I have said before, nobody comes to God through information; instead they come through a heart transformation.

Love u bro, Matt


Brian Hebert said...

Ooh, I didn't realize you were posting your half of our earlier email conversations. When you didn't respond to my last note, I assumed you had said everything you wanted to. For the sake of completeness, I'll toss my half up as soon as I get back from Bermuda. Oh yeah, I'm in Bermuda, so that's working out nicely :-)

I'll have a response for you sometime today or tomorrow.

Anonymous said...


I think you responded well to this comment and your ideas for studying scripture are good.

Here is my thought about studying scripture...

Most of us, I'm assuming you included, mainly form our view of scripture by taking the interpretation of somebody much smarter and well informed than we are, and using it as our own. For me, here lies the problem. It seems to me that there are enough different interpretations of scripture by doctors and crazy smart people out there, that we can pretty much choose the interpretation that lines up with how we feel at the time. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I think this is one way that the Holy Spirit is working to teach us.

However, it does seem that your interpretation of how homosexuality is addressed in the Bible is simply someone else's interpretation that happens to line up with how the Spirit is changing your heart or lines up with your current thoughts on the issue. You (or I) didn't go back and study the original language, or the exact situation and culture that they were written in - we take someone else's study and make it ours. This is why our thoughts on certain issues can change over time - not because we were wrong and now we are right, but because God changes our heart and allows different interpretations to be acceptable.

I would like to also add this as an observation about your statement:

"Most conversations that I have with people, come from such a bizarre approach and with absolutely no academic or logical thought process; typically it is so comical."

It is very difficult to read things like this on your posts. I think we need to be careful how we talk about others opinions and how they approach issues. This is so overwhelmingly offensive that I would not want to hold a conversation with you in person - I'm not sure if this what you are meaning to infer or not? Anyone who has had a conversation with you in the past will be very offended by this blanket statement.

Matt Chewning said...

I very much appreciated your comment. I edited my response after I read what you wrote and the Holy Spirit convicted me. My comment was prideful and I acknoledge that. Thank you for your words, God used them.

Pertaining to the idea on how we all form opinions, you are correct to a point. We all form opinions on things that we have not experienced first hand based on someone elses study. This is not just the bible but all issues; math, science, history, etc. If we are not careful, this conversation can lend itself to the conversation of "Absolute Truth". I'd rathr not go there.

So I'd appreciate if you would help me answer this question.

How do we form opinins on the bible without using other people's study? Is it possible? Didn't the disciples do this?

Matt Chewning said...

oh yeah, I re-worded my thoughts,

Brian Hebert said...

Well, Matt may not be willing to say it, but I certainly will. With regards to religious belief, it is absolutely true that the vast majority of people have very impoverished foundations. The church does very little to encourage critical analysis of its claims, and most people are too uninterested, too indoctrinated, or too unintelligent to develop these on their own. In the end, it is a rare thing to find someone who is actually willing to sit down and be truly objective with their beliefs. As someone who is searching for truth in an intellectually honest way, I can attest to the rarity of these kinds of discussions.

Brian Hebert said...

Oh yeah, one other small point regarding using 'expert testimony' to help formulate our beliefs. It all comes down to analytical balance. You have to read ALL expert opinion on a particular subject, including opposing ones. Read them with an open mind and then rewrite the arguments in your own words. Just like in debate class, we learn proper objectivity by forcing ourselves to defend a position we do not agree with. Take both sides of an argument, find weaknesses, refine both arguments, and repeat until you have a deep understanding of the subject matter. The deeper you go, the more clear the certainty (or lack thereof) of the answer will become. This is the approach I am taking with my research and my writing, and I feel that it is serving me well so far.