A lot of the justification I see in terms of the Bible is how its truth has stood firm over the last 2,000 years or so: what was true in the time of Jesus is true today.
If this is the case, shouldn't we expect the understanding and interpretation to have not varied that entire time?
I recently came across a post from a rather well-known Christian (in Christian circles, at least) about Matthew 25, and the parable of the talents. This person was connecting the parable to how Christians use what God has given them. The parable was "obviously" meant to show how God will react with how we respond to our talents: if we use them to produce results, as the first two servants did, then God will be pleased. If we are like the lazy servant, and fear losing the talent, then God will cast us away.
One problem with that interpretation -- according to The Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, by Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh, the above interpretation isn't anywhere close to what's going on in the parable.
In the "limited good" world of the first-centuary Mediterranen, however, seeking "more" was morally wrong ... because the pie was "limited" and already all distributed, an increase in the share of one person automatically meant a loss for someone else. Honorable people, therefore, did not try to get more and those who did were automatically considered thieves. Noblemen avoided such accusations of getting rich at the expense of others by having their affairs handled by slaves. Such behavior could be condoned in slaves since slaves were without honor anyway ...
When the day of accounting arrives, we find the master rewarding those who were vicious enough, shameless enough, to increase his wealth for him at the expense of so many others. These slaves, in fact, are just like their master. For we find out from the third slave (and the master agrees) that indeed, the master himself is quite rapacious and shameless "a hard man, reaping where he did not sow and gathering where he did not scatter seed." In other words, he is by definition a thief. A "hard" man is one whose eyes/heart, mouth/ears, and hands/feet are rigid, non functioning, arrogantly inhumane ...
From the peasant point of view, therefore, it was the third slave who acted honorably, especially since he refused to participate in the rapacious schemes of the greedy, rich man. Moreover, the harsh condemnation he received at the hands of the greedy owner, as well as the reward to to servants who cooperated, is just what peasants had learned to expect. Pages 124-125.
So my question is, if it's the Holy Spirit that leads the reader to the correct interpretation of Biblical passages, shouldn't our interpretation today match the understanding from 2,000 years ago? Rather than being a direct opposite?
It's situations like these, where a correct interpretation is dependent on understanding historical context, and the common interpretation pretty much matches how the Western Society behaves, that makes me feel religion as a whole is man-made and man-directed. It would be much more convincing to have someone with no understanding of that culture come to interpret the parable of talents the way it was understood back then.