"Uniting Christian & Jewish Clergy from Around the World"
It can be said that the difference between mysticism and Christianity is the message of the Bible. Christianity is not founded on a vague notion of who God is based on mystical guesswork; rather, it is built on the foundation of a concrete, divine revelation.
Furthermore, superficial Christians are not interested in the correct interpretations of God;'s Word. Only true, mature Christians understand the seriousness and necessity of such a commitment. Only when believers consider the Bible to be the ONE SOURCE OF FAITH and honestly interpret it according to fundamental rules of communication can it have an impact on their lives.
Deuteronomy 29:29 d9stinguishes between the secret things which are known only by God and those things which He has chosen to "reveal" to humanity through His deeds and His words. The things He has chosen to reveal are contained in the Bible.
Just imagine trying to serve God without His written Word. His redemptive acts would be passed on to us through the ages as mere hearsay. His characteristics would be unknown, and every mystic would have a different opinion of God's personality. The ways of salvation would be varied as the persons proclaiming them.
Certainly God reveals Himself indirectly through nature. redemptive acts. and divine miracles. However, if humankind's revelation of God were limited to these things, the tendency would surely be to neglect, distort, or misinterpret His actions. In short, without a revelation recording and explaining God's deeds, revealing His person, and describing His will, our faith would be reduced to the guesses of mystics. Obviously, every person would worship God in his or her own way.
Have you ever been misquoted? Perhaps you spoke to a person about a sensitive matter and he or she misinterpreted what you said to another person, completely missing your point.The result can be exasperating and even damaging to your character and friendships. You may have to explain a second time what you actually meant to communicate.
Likewise, God's attempts to communicate with us are often misconstrued. How often He is misquoted by well intentioned preachers who do not adhere to the universal rules of interpretation. Rightly enough, one pastor exclaimed in dismay, "There is no folly, no God-dishonoring theology, no iniquity, . . . for which chapter and verse may not be cited by an enslaved intelligence."
This occurs when the interpreter, through ignorance or by choice, sets aside the laws of interpretation. It is obvious that every trustworthy, reliable interpreter of God's Word needs to know the general rules that govern interpretation. Without a systematic interpretation of these rules, there is no end to the errors that can be taught from the BIble.
But if rules for interpreting communication are general and natural to communication, why must they be studied? Actually we use these rules constantly, but do not consciously consider them until the process of communication is complicated or obscured by factors such as urgency or time lapse. Our minds, the receptors of God's communication, are separated from the original author's intentions by thousands of years, different cultures, languages, and historical situations. Any of these 'gaps' between us and the author require a definitive knowledge of these guidelines to define God's message correctly.
Apart from these natural gaps, many passages of the Bible are difficult to understand without intensive study. The apostle Peter not only acknowledged such passages but also warned that if not correctly interpreted they could become distorted.
He [Paul] 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 other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)
If we could realize the devastating effects of incorrect biblical interpretation and could appreciate the privilege of correctly understanding God's revelation, we would quickly be convinced that a systematic study of the rules of interpretation is not only necessary and advantageous, but also expedient.