Many teachers and preachers speak with great authority and then say, “This is not me speaking. I’m only telling you what the Bible says.” But that assertion is always dangerous. When we apply the Bible to any particular situation we are interpreting. This is another case when one’s words can seem very pious, but actually border on sacrilege. What could be more pious than simply speaking God’s words and never adding anything of your own to them? But there is the problem. You and I are not capable of speaking “just what the Bible says.” There is always something of our own thinking and interpretation in what we have to say.
The honest thing to do is to admit that what we say is our interpretation, and leave the accuracy of our interpretation open to discussion and discernment. At the same time, no matter how
forcefully someone says that what they say is simply God’s truth, whether they claim that they got it by hearing directly or by reading and interpreting sacred documents, discernment is always up to the individual hearer.
A word of prophecy must be tested. An interpretation of scripture must be tested. Everything must be tested using the intelligence God gives you and the wisdom he promises (James 1:5).
— When People Speak for God, p. 78