Originally posted by jaywill
We have some advantage with the parable of the wheat and the tares because Jesus Himself provides us with the interpretation He intended.
There are some other parables which He does not explicitly interpret. Interpretation of those is opened to sound biblical exegesis. And a teacher should have the humlity to present as best a case as possible, acknowled ...[text shortened]... to teach God's administration - God's economy which is in the realm of faith.
I respect the lengths to which you go, and the civility you express, in your replies. I chose this parable precisely because it has an interpretation following it, so that the question of how do we know it is reliable and accurate applies in the case of a parable that, because it has an interpretation, should be most free of ambiguity and risk of unsound interpretation.
You may be using the word "sound" in a way that equates to my use of "reliable or accurate". So I will use that word.
You seem to exclude the parable of the wheat and tares from the need for interpretation, because Jesus interprets it. Granting you the point that Jesus' interpretation is sound, I question how we know we have a sound understanding of Jesus' interpretation. In effect, Jesus' interpretation REPLACES the parable, so it is our understanding of the Bible passage that is his interpretation that is of concern.
There is always a question of literalism in passages like "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and those who do iniquity, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Frankly, I could see the entire passage including the original passage supporting the idea that we should let God take care of unwelcome people in our midst, and not go after them ourselves, which sounds like an appeal to pacifism, somewhat removed from the fire and suffering that is promised.
But you go on to offer some "negative" indicators -- by which I mean indicators that an interpretation is NOT reliable or accurate. One is that it comes from an atheist. Your wording is unclear. Do you believe that ALL atheists consider the Bible as junk? I can see your being dismissive of such atheists as interpreters of the Bible, since they would have no appreciation of the fact that the Bible is, among other things, a compendium of the human wisdom of its age, and many of its passages are relevant today. There are atheists and non-theists who have this appreciation. Are their interpretations automatically unsound?
Another negative indicator is that reference to increasing proper religious hunger and desire, that indicates that it is at least SAFE. This does not quite make the mark of a sign that it is sound. Equally negative is the criteria that a sound interpretation would not make your heart cold. Would it be that a sound interpretation always warms the heart?
Do you see what I am getting at? What can we see, that differentiates a sound interpretation from an unsound one?
I appreciate and agree that a passage may be if different uses in different situations. However, I doubt that you would consider all of the uses to which Bible passages have been put have been sound or good. So I don't see how the fact that a passage can have multiple uses, helps in identifying soundness.
Your allusion to Abraham as a believer reflects the negative definition that non-belief will not yield sound interpretations.
Generally the rest of your reply (which I appreciate) expands on safety, although part of it advises against foolish questions -- advice some people may think I am violating with these very words.
I would like to hear more about the economy angle, and ask for you to indicate how to know an interpretation of a Bible passage IS sound, not just how to know that the interpretation of a Bible passage IS NOT sound.