Interpretations are fallible. When you think you know your interpretation is correct, you don’t. The Bible is written in foreign languages thousands of years ago. The Bible is not a single text with a single author. The Bible rarely addresses theological issues in a systematic way. We must show humility. What good is Christian love if we can’t share and consider one another’s opinion gracefully, so to work out our own convictions with as much consistency as possible.
When two debatable interpretations in Scriptures exist, we best err on the side of grace and mercy to avoid misleading anyone in what God is truly like. God is love. God’s wrath is simply another aspect of God’s love for one’s good. Biblical interpretations must be plausible based on what a loving God should be like. To portray God as a Hellish, sadistic torturer, since there is a defensible exegetical alternative, is questionable. Humans don’t even keep their enemies alive on purpose so we can keep burning them.
Human reasoning is not the enemy. The reason we have internal moral absolutes, which most beings can agree on at a fundamental level, is because we all are made in God’s image. We share God’s nature, so God cannot ask us to believe in anything unworthy of human, rational belief as it would go against His nature. God’s love and perfect human love are one in the same. God is the perfection of the human parents we have always desired. We best err on the side of interpretation that portrays God as the most relational and rational to the human mind.
We may think interpretations must strike the “fear of God” in others to control behaviors in an attempt to produce godliness. A survey of the times “fear of God” is used in the Bible suggests fearing God was synonymous with fearing evil. Those who deny their horrible evil acts should be warned. You are likely not a candidate for a “fear of God” warning if you are reading this. We often are not invited to understand how much God loves us so a true friendship can develop. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins in your life? Fear does not lead to intimacy in relationships which can transform us more into the kind of person we truly want to be.
Have Christians made a mess of the Christian religion by some of their views or lack of open-mindedness? Beliefs have consequences. Believing one human race is inferior to another human race leads to racism. We all are one human race if you believe the Bible, since we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Bad theology has consequences. Our theology must not make it difficult for people to turn to God by misrepresenting God’s character. Let each person come to their understanding of God if they are seeking. Understand our dogmatic theology can make it difficult for others to turn to God. Trust God to work in the heart of His individual children.