I comment on politics and government regularly, and often I speak of the concept of original intent—how we need to look back at what the author or authors meant when they wrote their words rather than taking them out of context or ignoring their original meaning. Lewis applies that same principle here, to both literature and the Bible. I hope you receive some edification from this commentary on his thoughts.
But is is not enough to make sense. We want to find the sense the author intended.
In this passage Lewis was addressing the laughable work of scholars who draw seemingly “brilliant” interpretations of literature that have not the faintest connection with the author’s original purpose. Unfortunately, that kind of arrogance and error is not limited to the world of literature.
One aspect of the Bible’s beauty is its timelessness: the perpetuity of its messages and the universality that makes it vital to every culture, time, and individual. But the Bible is not so universal that it has abandoned definite meaning. We have wearisome examples of those who fail to uncover those truly biblical messages and instead warp Scripture to match their predetermined agendas as they claim support for ungodly rhetoric and actions.
Less reprehensible, but more common, is the individualistic devotional treasure hunt of seeking what the Bible has to say to me, for me, which can result in the same type of twisting. Those who narrow their reading to that lens can easily find “support” for decisions they’ve already made, “guidance” that matches their prized wishes, and “values” that replicate their pet interests. They can dismiss all that is uncomfortable and challenging by ignoring other passages or crafting an interpretation to make the words parrot their desired message.
But that is not truly reading God’s Word, and it involves no communion with its author. Instead, it is a ludicrous approach. Think of God’s nature, his unfathomable goodness and wisdom. What self-fabricated message could exceed the meaning that God has already embedded in his words? God’s Word is worth our devotion, study, meditation, and memorization only when we are disciplined to approach it with integrity and with an eagerness to uncover what God is saying through it. But to do so, we have to put ourselves and our agendas aside, consciously and humbly giving up our filters and allowing ourselves to perceive God’s true intention, which in the end is the only sense that matters.
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Psalm 119:18