Nowadays, any reference to the Bible can be rebutted with the statement, “That’s just YOUR interpretation!”
It’s not a particularly good rebuttal. But as Westerners move more toward moral and cultural relativism, the more traction such arguments gain. Of course, this makes religious and ethical claims virtually meaningless and forces nearly everything, including historical events and persons, into the realm of the subjective.
This was on display in Steve McSwain’s article earlier this year, 6 Things Christians Should Stop Saying. McSwain, whose website glosses him as “a trusted guide, transformational leader, and a spiritual teacher to all,” takes aim at one of the central claims of Jesus Christ…
3. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
What you are really saying is, “The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: ‘If you do not believe in Me, you won’t go to the Father when you die.’”
…what you and your group of believers really mean to say is, “It is our interpretation of John 14:6 that Jesus is saying that He is the only way to heaven.”
Again, it’s your right to “believe” or, more accurately, interpret Scripture as you wish. You do not, however, have permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words. Last I checked, no one’s interpretation of anything is infallible. Not yours. Not mine.
The exclusivity of Christianity is a notoriously hard pill to swallow, especially for someone predisposed to believing that truth is unknowable. It is rather fascinating, however, that so many of those who believe that truth is unknowable have reached this same conclusion independently (i.e., through their own interpretive abilities). So does this consensus lend validity (or objectivity) to their view? If so, then why should centuries of scholarship that has reached the opposite conclusion about Christ be invalidated?
The author chastises the exclusivist who “arrogantly assume[s] your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words.” But isn’t this self-refuting? I mean, if all interpretations are fallible, then so are McSwain’s.
The question here seems less about infallibility and more about basic cognition. I mean, is it possible to understand the meaning of any words? Is it possible to extract the gist of any book, any blog post, any historic document, any Facebook Update, or any Tweet? More to the point: Is it possible to understand the meaning of Steve McSwain’s article? If so, then who gave you “permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of [Steve McSwain] are the only way to understand [h]is words”?
So please, don’t tell me everything is up for “interpretation” while telling me that I should accept yours.