The PLAIN Meaning Of Scripture

When I was first converted from the Baptist church, I thought members of conservative churches of Christ always took the plain (most obvious) meaning for passages, and didn’t shy away from that because of family, circumstances, consequences, feelings or emotion, or any extra-Biblical factor. But I have since found out I was wrong in many cases. Instead many Christians are now interpreting the Bible using the “hermeneutic rule that says to not construe a passage in such a way that it has consequences that are not acceptable” (Robert Waters, Christian, Facebook, 1-31-2017).

Taking the obvious meaning for a verse ought to be one of the top rules of hermeneutics (after “the Bible does not contradict itself”). Notice how this is expressed in David Cooper’s Golden Rule Of Interpretation: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages, and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” In other words, we should always accept a text at simple face value, unless something else in the Bible forces us to do otherwise.

As we know, the Bible is to be understood just like any uninspired document written by men. Eph 3:3-4 says “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge.” Also II Cori 1:13 reads “For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand …” (NASV). To understand uninspired literature, we take what it says at face value unless something dictates otherwise. Clearly we should do the same with inspired texts. After all, God is communicating with us in our language.

Notice further this quote from D.R. Dungan’s book “Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures” (pg.184,195-203): “All words are to be understood in their literal sense, unless the evident meaning of the context forbids. – Figures are the exception, literal language the rule; hence we are not to regard anything as figurative until we feel compelled to do so by the evident import of the passage. … here great caution should be observed. We are very apt to regard contexts as teaching some theory … in our minds. And having so determined, anything to the contrary will be regarded as a mistaken interpretation; hence, if the literal meaning of the words shall be found to oppose our speculations, we are ready to give to the words in question some figurative import that will better agree with our preconceived opinions. Let us be sure that the meaning of the author has demanded that the language be regarded in a figurative sense, and that it is not our theory which has made the necessity.”

Having said all that, what is the plain meaning of the following? …

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved …

Matt 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

I Cor 14:34-35 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience … And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Matt 5:22 … I say unto you, … whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of h-e-l-l fire.

Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting ….

Matt 12:31-32 … All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Matt 27:46 … Jesus cried with a loud voice … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

James 4:15 … ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that

Matt 5:33-34 … I say unto you, Swear not at all

Tit 2:4-5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Why do many Christians try to get around the plain meaning of the above passages instead of just accepting and applying them?

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