Have you ever noticed that the way the Bible is interpreted at your local church makes it appear to be a very different Bible than your own? Sometimes the difference between the scripture and the interpretation is slight whereas in other cases it is so drastic as to render the two as opposites. When the interpretation is well accepted among a group and becomes doctrine for that group then the interpretation takes on near scriptural status, as if it is an authorized and scholarly translation in and of itself.
Below are several examples of well-known passages from the NIV which are paired with interpretations which may be familiar to those who have attended the "One True Church." Interpretations of the latter are designated as OTT, the One True Translation.
1. "Let us not give up meeting together, as the habit of some is." (Heb. 10:25 NIV) "Do not forsake the assembly as the manner of some is." (OTT)
2. "Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (I Cor. 11:25, 26 NIV) "This do ye every Sunday and only on Sundays in remembrance of me." (OTT)
3. "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." (Rom. 14:5 NIV) "The first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath and is holy. That is the day when Christians should assemble and engage in the five holy acts of worship." (OTT)
4. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (Rom. 8:14 NIV} "Those who are members in good standing of the One True Church are sons of God." (OTT)
5. "I urge you ... to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, ... this is your spiritual act of worship." (Rom. 12:1 NIV) "I urge you to engage in acappella sing- ing, prayer, preaching, communion, and an offering whenever you assemble together on Sun- day mornings, for this is holy worship." (OTT)
6. "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight." (Acts 20:7 NIV)
"Every Sunday the disciples came together to have communion. The preachers gave long sermons to their congregations. (OTT)
7. "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." (I Cor. 12:3 NIV) "Many can say 'Jesus is Lord' who do not have the Holy Spirit." (I Cor. 12:30TT)
8. "...if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Gal. 5:18 NIV). "You are not led by the Spirit but by the law as interpreted by the elders and ministers to whom you should subject yourselves." (OTT)
9. "And .God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Eph. 1:22, 23 NIV) "And God placed all things under the feet of the elders and full-time preachers concerning everything for the church, the Holy Organization." (OTT)
10."Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made." (I Cor. 16: 1, 2 NIV)
"Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian Churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should give a sum of money, in keeping with your incomes, to the local church organization for use by the elders there for whatever they deem appropriate." (OTT)
11. "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mt. 24:30, 36 NIV) At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. No one knows when that will be, the day or hour, the year or decade, the century or millennium, so do not waste your time studying any scripture which has to do with the end times." (07I")
12, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which is described in this book." (Rev. 22: 18, 19 NIV) "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to the OTT, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from the OTT, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which is described in this book." (OTT)
13."For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16 N IV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever faithfully attends to the business of the One True Church shall not perish but have eternal life." (OTT)
14. "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 7:21 NIV) "Not all who have accepted Jesus as their Savior will be saved but only those who are faithful members of the One True Church." (OTT)
My purpose here is not so much to argue that these interpretations are all grossly inappropriate. Different interpretations are bound to occur given that we use different translations, have different education levels, and come from different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds. We all read and attempt to determine what parts of the NT apply to our own times and situations and, if so, how.
What is surely inappropriate, however, is treating our interpretations (or those of any other man or group) as if they are inspired and binding upon others. Yet, that is what has happened. These and other interpretations are part of the doctrine of the One True Church, they are taught as truth rather than opinion, and they are used as tests of soundness in, the faith and fellowship. Each of us should resist this tendency not only when it is practiced by others, but also when it is our own opinions we are attempting to bind on others.