Before I begin to attempt to explain and defend my faith, I must state a few principles. Here are some things I believe:
Common ground: Christians share the majority of their beliefs with each other, while we differ on a few others. It's tragic that those fewer differences cause so much discord. We should keep firmly in mind the very many truths we all confess.
Scriptural interpretation: When we try to interpret scripture, we have to be very careful. It can be tempting to interpret it to mean something we want it to mean rather than what God means. Peter warned against this:
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which
are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and
unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own
You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest
being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own
steadfastness. (2 Peter 16-17)
It seems to me that we have to be careful when we interpret scripture that we do not come up with an interpretation of one verse that requirse some other verse to be discarded because it does not agree with our interpretation of the first. I would bet that most of us can find some other denomination whose interpretation of a verse we disagree with. We must keep in mind that they disagree with our interpretation, too. One interpretation must be correct, and conflicting interpretations cannot all be correct. Our goal should not be to prove that our interpretation is correct, but to find the correct interpretation and make it our own. If we try to "prove" that our interpretation is correct, discarding other verses that disagree, are we not pitting our will against God's? That's a dangerous place that I don't want to go.
Another thought: sometimes, maybe, a verse just means what it says.
Charity: Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are discussing these issues because they are important, essential even. We love each other as Christ commanded us to, and we are working not to defeat or to vanquish, but to save.