On interpretation of scripture

Many people have argued that religious observance is a private endeavour and that it is unbecoming of anyone to insist their interpretation is the only one and that which the multitude must acquiesce to. And so in my continued serialization of the portions of Spinoza’s work that I think matter to us most, I will share what he writes on interpreting scripture

He writes, and I agree, that

Therefore, as the supreme right of free thinking, even on religion, is in every man’s power, and as it is inconceivable that such power could be alienated, it is also in every man’s power to wield the supreme right and authority of free judgment in this behalf, and to explain and interpret religion for himself. The only reason for vesting the supreme authority in the interpretation of law, and judgment on public affairs in the hands of the magistrates, is that it concerns questions of public right. Similarly the supreme authority in explaining religion, and in passing judgment thereon, is lodged with the individual because it concerns questions of individual right. So far, then, from the authority of the Hebrew high-priests telling in confirmation of the authority of the Roman pontiffs to interpret religion, it would rather tend to establish individual freedom of judgment. Thus in this way also, we have shown that our method of interpreting Scripture is the best. For as the highest power of Scriptural interpretation belongs to every man, the rule for such interpretation should be nothing but the natural light of reason which is common to all—not any supernatural light nor any external authority; moreover, such a rule ought not to be so difficult that it can only be applied by very skillful philosophers, but should be adapted to the natural and ordinary faculties and capacity of mankind. And such I have shown our method to be, for such difficulties as it has arise from men’s carelessness, and are no part of its nature.

Stop your preachings. Don’t proselytize. Let each person decide for themselves whether the religions conforms to their natural reason and to believe as they so wish or rather as they are convinced.