In response to this blog post: http://nicholastong.com/blog/2015/09/thoughts-on-ravi-zacharias-truth-if-you-dare-seminar/
My view of bible interpretation is virtually identical to that mentioned in the above-linked blog post, with the added consideration of “textual criticism”, because biblical manuscripts are not uniform, and the modern bible heavily relies on scholars who make use of manuscripts with textual discrepancies, in an attempt to guess at what the original authors really wrote. Of course, Christians often argue that the discrepancies are insignificant, that they do not affect “core doctrines”, etc. Furthermore, who decides what set of documents rightly comprise the bible? Humans themselves decided it, and traditionally there was not even 100% agreement amongst them on which books are “canonical”. E.g. Catholic vs Protestant canon.
More importantly, I find that the typical “Christian” preoccupation with “absolute biblical truth” can be defeated by this simple thought experiment:
Granting that God exists and is all-powerful, will you still worship him if he happens to be an evil God?
This should reveal the fact that morality cannot be imposed by an external source. It is something that every individual much apprehend of his own accord.
But many Christians unconsciously live according to the aphorism “might makes right”, because they unquestioningly insist that God must be worshipped simply because he is God, and that his word is true / good simply because he is God. Worse still, Christianity is broadly tainted by a kind of selfish preoccupation with personal salvation, with an emphasis on “what must I do to be saved?”, which is ironic given the verse of Mark 8:35 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark+8%3A35&version=NRSV;CEB;NET;YLT;KJV).
“Christian” morality is hence often thought of as primarily motivated by unquestioning “obedience to God”. Contrast that with doing good simply because one personally believes in that good.
If we do “good” simply because some all-powerful being commands it, then it would be “might makes right”. Also, no extra points for obeying God out of gratefulness because he has guaranteed you a place in heaven or something. That is still “might makes right”.
On the other hand, if we read the bible, and consider all reasonable interpretations, then we can allow our personal moral compass to help us appreciate which interpretations are good. In this way, we need not be enslaved to the silly preoccupation with “absolute truth”. Moral transformation is a gradual process, and as we mature as moral agents, our appreciation for morality will also grow and change. Also, I believe any objective bible reader will realise that granting believers moral transformation is the primary purpose of Jesus’s death in the first place. Of course, there is a popular doctrine that Jesus died to take the sinner’s penalty so that the sinner can go free and escape the penalty. But such a version of “justice” in which a just penalty can be transferred to an innocent victim, is clearly illogical, though indoctrinated “Christians” would beg to differ.
(Further reading: https://derekvreeland.com/2017/03/n-t-wright-revolutionary-cross-week-1/)
My view is that God hates evil, so he transforms people from evil to good, and in so doing save them from the ultimate destruction that befalls all evil people. But the popular “Christian” doctrine perverts this into a doctrine wherein Jesus has already taken the penalty, and moral transformation is merely out of obedience and gratefulness.
Mark 8:35 (NRSV)
35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the [good news], will save it.
People whose primary goal is to obtain a kind of personal salvation based on believing the “right” doctrines (i.e. believing the absolute truth), would naturally become preoccupied with “absolute truth”. But true salvation, i.e. moral transformation, is really achieved by continual reflection on what “good” really is, and dedicating oneself to it. This is what the “good news” is for in the first place.
Finally, just because morality is subjectively apprehended, it does not mean that people are necessarily “free” to adopt their own separate moral systems. We are all human beings (made in God’s image!), and just as we share fundamental similarities in biology, we may well naturally come to fundamentally share an appreciation for the same kind of morality.