Friday, March 07, 2008

Defending a Position Biblically

I am continuing to look at reasons or excuses that christians make for not studying the Bible. I'm not sure if it's a reason not to study, but a definite frustration that many have (and I have sometimes)is that the Bible can be used by anyone trying to defend their own views. Find something you are passionate about, then look up a few verses in the Bible that pertain to it, and use that as your argument. If you happen to disagree, simply say "that's your interpretation."

Does this happen? It's a silly question. Of course it does. I am going to avoid bringing up specific instances because those could become the focus of the post. I'm sure that most reading this can think of times where this has happened, and I'm sure that everyone has been told or said "that's your interpretation" or "that's your opinion."

The problem is that the Bible is read subjectively. It becomes what Martin Luther called a "wax nose" that is bent and twisted to match the face of the reader. Every time I hear someone quote scripture to defend a certain position, regardless of if I agree with the position, I view it with skepticism. What is drawn out is generally not the original intent of what written in.

A better approach to studying the scripture is to attempt to see what was originally meant when the passage was written. There should really only be one true meaning. Once that is discovered, there are a multitude of applications that can be made, which are personal.

There are some legitimate uses of this technique, however. When feeling depressed, it may be a good idea to seek encouragement from passages that speak of victory, for example. I remember a book I was given when I graduated from High School that had Bible verses for the graduate. These are good things, and I believe appropriate.

The bottom line is that the Bible should not be twisted and used in ways to defend a certain moral or political issue, unless you are sure that a passage is not taken out of context and used within the original intent.

2 Comments:

  1. John Meunier said...
    There should really only be one true meaning.

    What do you mean by meaning here? A story by its nature has many meanings.

    If the Bible were meant to be boiled down to a list of propositional statements, then why tell all those stories?

    I think there is something fundamental about narrative and poetry that resist boiling the content down to one meaning.
    Brett said...
    Excellent question. I wanted to elaborate more, but didn't want to get long winded. I have posted about it before here. However, after reading it I don't think the post makes sense. I am trying to distinguish between the actual meaning of a passage (what was actually meant when the passage was written) and the multitude of applications that come out of it.
    It comes down to one meaning, many applications. I may have to take time to do a better post and give better examples. Hope this makes more sense.

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