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  • Writer's pictureRASEL ISLAM

Seeing through our filters

Welcome to another blog from Theology Simplified, the ministry where we discuss all things theological, making complex topics understandable, where we examine cults, sounding a warning about the dangers they represent, and where we call out apostasy whenever we see it. This article is about filters

As I’m working on my next book, titled Bible 101, one of the chapters deals with the variety of translations, versions, and paraphrases of the Bible that are available to us today. While all credible Bible translations present the same basic message, the variations derive from the filters used by the scholars doing the translating. Similar to the filters used by a photographer to achieve a certain effect in his photograph and thus convey that effect to those who view the photo, a Bible translator may want to present a word for word translation, or he may want to convey the thought that the original author was trying to convey. He may want to do that using as much as possible the language of that day, or he may want to express the general sense using today’s modern language.

Filters matter. And we use them more than we realize. Often we are the ones applying our own filters…

Filter- process or assess (items) so as to reject those that are unwanted. "you'll be put through to a secretary whose job it is to filter calls" Whether we realize it or not, most of us constantly apply filters to our interactions as we journey through life. We interpret information based on our preconceived notions, or on information we already know. Some of our filters are good ones. Filtering can be helpful and a protection for us; it can keep us from interacting with information or situations that we know will be harmful for us. It can also quickly identify information that is false, not relevant or in which we have no interest. Sometimes, however, our filters can mislead us or even be harmful. When visiting another culture, we can interpret their customs through the filter of being from the United States, resulting in missed communication or insulting our host. We filter the news through our preconceived political views. We make health care decisions based on the filter of our limited existing knowledge. Often we do not even realize what filters we carry with us on a daily basis. What filters do we bring to our spiritual lives? Do we read and interpret scripture through the filter of someone living in the 21st century, or do we seek to understand it the way the writer originally intended? How about when we read books or articles by Christian writers? What filters do we bring to that? What filters do we carry with us into the sanctuary every Sunday morning? the best and most important filter we can have for our spiritual lives is the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is indispensable for an interpreter's reaching a correct interpretation of the text. The Spirit must work in the interpreter's heart so that he or she welcomes the biblical message that one's egotistic, sinful heart otherwise hates with a vengeance. Author: Daniel Fuller

All portions of Scripture ought to be approached with deep humility and earnest prayer for the teaching of the Spirit. On no point have good people so entirely disagreed as on the interpretation of prophecy; on no point have the prejudices of one group, the dogmatism of a second and the extravagance of a third done so much to rob the church of truths which God intended to be a blessing. Author: J.C. Ryle

May I suggest that each of us prays to have the filter of the Holy Spirit as we navigate not only our spiritual lives, but our everyday lives as well. That is the best way to ensure that the filters we do apply as we go through life are correctly calibrated, and will keep us safe rather than expose us to danger. Who knows us better than the One who created us? There is no one more concerned about our welfare and seeing that we make good decisions in our choice of information and entertainment. There is no one more concerned that our interpretation of scripture is correct. We should seek Him.

Happy filtering!

Ron Heisey


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