It's been pretty bad of late. There's been growing concern over the inaccurate interpretation of Scripture by various Adventist ministers, speakers, and bloggers. This isn’t to say these blunders are done with the intent to mislead or that they will lead listeners to damnation.
Nevertheless, something needs to be said because many sincere Adventists are modeling their interpretive techniques after various pundits, and this isn’t a good thing. Let’s bear in mind that incorrect interpretation, in part, led the Jews to reject Jesus, and at the end of time many sincere Christians may be led astray because of their failure to interpret prophecy accurately.
Moreover, these hermeneutical blunders aren’t just taking place with “liberals,” but I would argue it’s also rampant with conservatives.
As you’ll see, objectionable interpretations are often made by the best of us.
“Feeling it” doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Just because you’re in the “zone” when studying Scripture doesn’t necessarily mean what’s being revealed is truth. I had one of my best, most intense Bible studies when I inadvertently drank a caffeinated beverage. The Bible study lasted until 3 am, which was about the time I became suspicious of my “inspiration." I recognized that the source of my vibrancy wasn’t from God! Likewise, just because you’re having strong—dare I say, holy—feelings associated with your Bible study doesn’t mean your interpretation is originating from God. It could be the figment of your imagination. Ellen White alludes to this principle in this way. “Impressions alone are not a safe guide. . . The enemy often persuades men to believe that it is God who is guiding them, when in reality they are following only human impulse” (AA 287).
Common mistakes using Strong’s Concordance. Many Bible students look up various words (i.e., sanctification, love, etc.) using their concordance and subconsciously place an equal sign between every instance that word is used in the Bible. Then they assume some obscure usage of the color “red” in the book of Genesis is somehow connected to the color “red” in the book of Revelation. This is a fatal error. Furthermore, just because it’s the same English word in the Strong’s Concordance doesn’t mean it’s the same Greek or Hebrew word used in the original. So, to make an interpretive connection when it’s not even the same original word is a mistake! Finally, the KJV is not more original, or more accurate than the original manuscripts. It’s a translation. So don’t arbitrarily connect words in the KJV that aren’t the same words in the original languages.
The misplaced interpretation of Scripture isn’t necessarily sin. Nor does it imply we’re lost. Nevertheless, it behooves us to correctly interpret Scripture and not read into the text meanings that don’t exist!
Within the Seventh-day Adventist church there’s been an explosion of nonsensical interpretations that are leading many astray. Many are searching out Scripture to prove their own pet theories, and not allowing the Bible to speak for itself. This is one of the reasons for the current misunderstandings on topics such as the Godhead, end-time prophecies, the feasts, etc. I haven’t addressed all of the current, hermeneutical issues within the church, but I’ve pointed out some of the key ones. Hopefully we can continue to grow in this area.
May we be diligent to understand the true meaning of Scripture as we're guided by sound hermeneutical principles and the Holy Spirit.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).