NFLplayerskneel

I've heard numerous interpretations about what NFL players' kneeling rather than standing during the national anthem signifies.

Originally, it had to do with protesting certain police actions against African-Americans. The thought was, "How can we sing about living in "the land of the free" when segments of the population continue to be discriminated against?" Then it had to do with protesting criticisms made by the President. Some said that it was disrespecting the military. Others said it was disrespecting the country. Still others are upset because they paid to watch a football game, not to receive a political lecture of sorts.

The variety of interpretations that accompany kneeling rather than standing reminds me of the interpretation problem we have in the Church. The Reformation raised the problem by challenging the Church's "official" interpretation of Scripture. When the Augsburg Confession was read and then published, it was setting forth an interpretation of Bible teaching on certain points that was at variance with the Church's official position. What now? Both couldn't be right! Charles V longed to see the division healed, but to no avail. Today the problem is exacerbated when home Bible studies ask each member what they think the passage under discussion means. When the study guide tells the leader to "accept all answers," it is only opening the door to a further multiplicity of interpretations and gives the impression that all are of equal value. Just like much else in society, one's own interpretation becomes his/her guide. That's another way of saying that everyone is doing what is right in his/her own sight. Bible scholars have tried to lessen this problem by pointing out the steps one ought to follow when trying to interpret and understand a passage. But sometimes even those procedural rules are ignored or not followed out of ignorance. The result is that we have broken ourselves down into various tribes, each of which believes that their interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. The last time I looked, no tribe has said, "Our interpretation was wrong." On the basic question, "How do I find a gracious God?" every answer can't be right, although today some even disagree with that and say that there are many paths to a gracious God!

What do you say to millennials who are skeptical of there being any one "right" interpretation of the Bible? Especially when one's eternal fate rests upon a right or wrong understanding of certain key teachings? Is one saved by faith or by works? It is interesting that a recent survey found that 70% of Americans have decided that salvation requires both! Apparently, while we find it hard to reach political compromise, most don't have that problem when it comes to religion.