The Mind of the Author
District Fellowship News
January, February 2006
First it was JRR Tolkein and now CS Lewis who have had their literary works redone for the big screen. Although some of these works have been produced on film before, there has never been the ability to make the fantastic creatures and epic battles really come to life until now. With talented technical help, wonderful computer generated graphics, and new editing and filming techniques what was in the mind of the author can be seen, and heard, and felt instead of just imagined. But how can we know what was in the author’s mind, and how can we be sure that what we envisioned is what the author intended?
Have you ever seen a visual representation of a character from a book or story that just didn’t come close to what you thought the character looked like? The interpretation comes from the mind of the artist or filmmaker not necessarily from the author themselves. They are drawing or filming the events and characters the way they interpret them, and that can lead to great confusion and either intentional or unintentional changes to the meaning the author intended for his material. Those who are making the intentional changes do not care to know what was in the mind of the author. Their only goal is to use the material to further their own agenda. Although you may not notice it, this happens quite frequently when an author will no longer have anything to do with a project because the screenplay has the title of the original but the characters and plot have been changed so much the original no longer can be seen. In fiction this reenvisioning does not really matter in the larger scope of things but when it comes to eternal matters it becomes incredibly important.
In order to know what was in the author’s mind, we must get to know the author. This is never more true than when we are trying to interpret and understand the truth of the Word of God. It is easy for me to write commentary or offer opinions on the meaning of Bible passages by just taking what I think, adding in a little of my experience, throwing in some wisdom from a book or two I’ve read and mixing them all together until what comes out is my version of the truth. This is exactly how my picture of God can become an old man sitting around with a long beard and a lightning bolt, or maybe a cute little cloud floating around that turns black when angry and golden when happy. The most insidious picture of all is when we make God in our image, just a man or an alien a little dumber than we are (He has to be because we have all the answers) None of these pictures or thousands of others of God are true. We are just rewriting the Book to make a great story or screenplay from our own mind, out of our thoughts, and there is only enough truth mixed in to make it intriguing to others.
It’s quite possible you have been fooled at one time or another by these interpreters who say that they know what God meant. Immorality is okay, homosexuality is part of man’s experience, greed is part of God’s plan to enrich you: the list could go on and on. But the authors of these interpretations all have one thing in common—they never got to know the author of the Book. In order to understand the Word of God we must learn to know the one who wrote the Book. He very plainly set forth how the world works, the grand plan of redemption, what the future holds, how we should treat each other. This is not just an allegory like The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, or a fantasy with some virtue like The Lord of the Rings. This book is truth of how the world was, how it is, and how it will be. To understand this truth, we must start by building relationship with the author, getting to know Him. Take your feelings, and thoughts and set them aside, and let the author Himself show you what He had in mind. It’s better than you can even imagine.