First posted on Tangentrider's MySpace May 2006.
[voice in in first person singular...the person is Laura, AKA Tangentrider]

I think one of the most common 'bible study' questions is, "What does this passage mean to you?" To be honest, every time I hear it I bristle. Why? Because I care deeply what the Bible means. You see, there is a vast difference between the two. The first one cares most about personal perception. The second one cares more about what the Bible intends to communicate. And if the Bible truly is the Word of God, then its intended meaning is crucial.

That's why I care so much about what the Bible means. I believe the Bible is the actual Word of God. First, the Bible is the most well-attested ancient document in existence. We have manuscript portions from within a decade or so of the original writing. No other ancient document can say that.

Second, the Bible gives the best explanation for the condition we find ourselves in. Think about the people you know--or about yourself. Each one of us is a bizarre mixture of goodness and badness. The Bible explains that humans are created by God to be like God. This is why each human is good. The Bible also explains that humans chose to go their own way and try to make themselves like God. This explains why humans are bad.

Third, the Bible gives the best solution to humanity's problem. Try as we might--and we have tried a lot--we cannot get rid of our badness. It pops up at the most inconvenient times and leaves destruction in its trail. If you survey the religions of the world they all offer a fix that involves human effort. But human effort has not worked. The Bible explains that God took it upon himself to solve the problem. He only asks that we stop trusting ourselves--which has not and does not work--and trust him.

That is why I don't care what it means to you. Its nothing against you. Rather its something about the Bible. Your perception--or my perception--is not master. The Bible is master. The Bible tells us what we mean. We do not decide what it means. Rather, we discover what it means.

See the follow-up post: I Don't Care What it Means to Me Either


See CC License

“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” http://www.esv.org/


  1. Amen! I absolutely hate the phrase "this is what I think" or "this is what it means to me". I want to then get up and leave! I do not care about what YOU think or care! I only care that in the context of the passage, we listen to what God thinks and then care about that!!

  2. The last time someone said that in college bible study (it was a while ago...the current guys know better), it took everything I had to hold my tongue and not blast the person. Thankfully, another student blasted them instead...nice!