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As evidenced by this site, and the divisions between various Christian denominations, there seems to be a lot of different ways some passages in the bible can be interpreted.

One example is Chronicles 16:30: "Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved." For hundreds of years (and still some today) some Christians interpreted this to mean the earth is the center universe and does not move.

So is there anything in the Bible that clearly states why some passages are written in such a way as to potentiate interpretation?

If not, is there anything in the Bible that may even suggest or hint at why this is, or perhaps a story alluding to this like someone navigating a task though directed by unclear instructions?

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great question.... –  Greg McNulty Apr 22 '12 at 22:12
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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Certainly the apostle Peter found Paul's letters hard to understand:

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:16

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Exactly what I was looking for, thanks and nice work! This is pure gold. –  Jenny Thomson Sep 2 '11 at 11:24
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Yes, absolutely

First understand these premises, earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom.

James 3:14-15 (NIV)

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

James 3:17 (NIV)

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

This is the answer to your question

Isaiah was commissioned by God to go and rebuke a wicked people and deliver this curse to them.

Isaiah 6:9-10 NIV

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Wicked people and the wisdom of this world

God has purposely shut off the understanding of His word to the common man. Because of that mans wickedness he will never know the truth about God. But if that man turns from his wickedness, repents, and has faith in Jesus Christ, then God will open the flood gates of wisdom so that you may understand His word.

Ephesians 4:18

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

Children of God

God promises a wealth of understanding when He gives you the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:8

that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Isaiah 11:2

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—

Colossians 1:9

... We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

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reason for downvote? so that I may be able to adjust? –  Jonathon Byrd Sep 2 '11 at 5:42
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Probably the biggest thing is, you cannot rightly understand before you have been born of God. This is different from claiming to be a "christian."

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

If you are not willing to do God's will (give up sin and follow Christ), you cannot possibly know doctrine:

Joh 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

So, basically sin is at the root of most, if not all, misinterpretations.

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A large part of it is that the Bible wasn't written for us. The various books were written by people thousands of years ago, for their own contemporaries. There are a few passages about preserving knowledge and laws for posterity, but in general it was written by, to and for people of ancient cultures. A lot of it is still 100% valid, since it deals with basic human nature, which doesn't change with time. But a lot of it deals with culture, which does change.

To give just one example, the Bible forbids the eating of blood in very specific and clear terms. The council in Acts 15 makes it clear that this prohibition still applies to Christians. But the Bible doesn't say anything about blood transfusions, for the very simple reason that the technology for it did not exist until recently. So what to do about them?

Some Christian churches are silent on the matter. Others, placing a high value on healing and the preservation and improvement of human life, actively support and help to organize blood drives. Others, though, interpret the prohibition against eating blood more broadly than what is literally written, stating that it is wrong to take blood that is not your own into your body, even through other means than eating/drinking, and therefore blood transfusions are a violation of the law.

Anywhere where the words of the Bible are not perfectly clear and completely applicable to some modern concept, people will find a need to interpret them. And with so much interpretation going on, some people try to squeeze in even more reinterpreting to get otherwise-clear passages to fit their agenda. (See for example the various "is X a sin?" questions, and count how many of them actually mean "can I get away with doing X even though it's generally/frequently considered to be a sin?")

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One question that raises with me is if the bible was written by men, and it's fallible (i.e. Not written in such a way as to be forward compatible) how can it adequately serve as the word of an omnipotent god? Furthermoor why would a god allow for his user manual to be written in a manner not mmeting his standards? This is just a question not an indictment. –  Jenny Thomson Sep 2 '11 at 1:15
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Not written for us? "Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." If you don't think it is written for you, you might want to look at this verse: 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. –  The Preacher Sep 2 '11 at 1:23
    
@Jenny - If it was men, and not God using men to write it (as 2 Peter 1:21 states), you are right. We might as well shut this site down and go home. –  The Preacher Sep 2 '11 at 1:24
    
@Jenny Thomson - I think the best answer I can give to that without starting a fight, is that many denominations don't have Biblical Inerrency as a fundamental principal. If you are curious how that works, you should probably post a question. –  T.E.D. Sep 2 '11 at 1:52
    
@The Preacher: Not exactly what I meant. (See? It's not just the Bible that people misinterpret.) ;) But a lot of the things in the Bible don't match modern times. I can find plenty of rules about animals, fields, and laborers, but not much about cars, airplanes and computers. So when someone wants to figure out the morality of cars, airplanes and computers, they have to find some way of mapping concepts that were given to people who never had those things onto modern-day concepts, and because people are fallible, (and occasionally have agendas,) things go wrong with the process pretty often. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 2 '11 at 2:14
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