Tim Keller provides insight on whether divergent interpretations of Scripture undermine its authority.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of the video above. Before quoting, please check the video to ensure accuracy.
We live in a time when, certainly in the West, people don’t conform. We have been taught to speak up and to assert ourselves and to not let anybody else tell us what to believe. There are a lot of cultures in which everybody conforming and fitting in is a cultural value. That is not our cultural value in the United States. Because of that, it’s true that there are just all sorts of angry and sometimes certainly assertive points of view being pushed out there. That’s true about everything, though––absolutely everything.
This is true in our culture whether you’re talking about the Bible, or whether you’re talking about even atheism, for example. Atheists are constantly arguing. There are all sorts of atheisms, and they get very, very angry with each other. Does that mean atheism is wrong necessarily because there’s a lot of divergent views and because people use atheism to justify all sorts of different kinds of behavior? No. Now I think atheism is wrong, but it’s not wrong because there’s that diversity. It’s not wrong because there’s that debate going on.
What you’re really saying is that nobody can know anything. But then how can you know that?
And therefore you can’t just say, “Oh, well, there’s no way to ever understand what the Bible is saying because look at all the different diversities of viewpoint.” What you’re really saying, if that’s your argument, is that nobody can know anything. But then how can you know that? And how can you be so sure about that? And how can you in a sense pontificate to people who do believe the Bible and say, “Well, nobody can really understand the Bible. Nobody can be sure about it.” Why? How can you be that sure? In the end, that argument explodes. In the end that argument undermines itself. It doesn’t really work.