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The Bible Says It, I Believe It…But That Doesn’t Settle It

January 4th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Posted in Jonathan Welton, Miscellaneous, Twisted Scriptures

Holy_Bible Have you ever heard someone say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!”?

I’ve encountered this statement too many times to count–from adult Sunday School classes to car bumper stickers.

Maybe you’ve even said those words.

The intent behind this statement can sometimes be very good. What the person may really mean to say is, “If God told me to do something in His Word, then I’m going to obey.”

Amen!

But often this pious-sounding phrase is used to defend practices or teachings that are not taught in God’s Word. What do I mean? Often someone will claim that all Christians should behave in a certain way simply because that behavior can be found in the Bible–even though the Bible doesn’t encourage that behavior. Let me explain.

In my last post, I wrote about Jonathan’s Welton’s book Normal Christianity, where he encourages Christians to engage in practices that are occultic by nature, such as clairvoyance, clairsentience, and the use of power objects. Welton defends those practices by pointing to particular instances in the Bible where God’s people appeared to engage in them. For instance, to support the use of power objects, Welton points to the story in 2 Kings about the dead man who came back to life after his body came in contact with Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21).

Welton also points out that the apostle Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons carried power to heal people (Acts 19:11-12).

Since Elisha’s bones contained resurrection power–and since Paul’s personal items carried power–then clearly Christians today should seek to use power objects. Right?

Wrong.

Just because something can be found in the Bible does not mean that it necessarily should be used as a pattern for God’s people today. The proper application of Scripture to our lives is more complex than that.

Some Odd Examples

If we, Christians, were supposed to do everything we see in Scripture, then we’d be doing things much differently, such as:

  • When choosing church leaders, we’d cast lots (Acts 1:26)
  • When choosing a wife, a man would sneak up on a group of dancing ladies and snatch the one who caught his eye (Judges 21:20-23)
  • All men would have multiple wives (Genesis 4:19)
  • All women would wear a head covering (1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
  • We’d all walk around naked and barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:2)

You can see the absurdity of doing everything we see in Scripture.

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive

So how do we know which parts of Scripture we are supposed to apply to our lives and which parts we aren’t?

The proper application of Scripture requires readers to sort through the passages that merely describe something that happened (such as the casting of lots to choose a church leader) and those passages that prescribe a course of action for all believers (such as being kind and compassionate to each other).

So, how can you tell?

How can you tell if a passage in Scripture is meant to be a pattern for all believers in all ages?

One helpful hint that is given by biblical scholars Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is: “Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a normative way–unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author intended it to function in this way.”

But it is not my intention to give all the keys to biblical interpretation in this post. The main point to remember is that just because something is recorded in the Bible does not mean it should be seen as a pattern for all believers at all times in all places.

If you want to learn more about the steps to the proper interpretation and application of Scripture, then a great book to start with is How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

A second, more in-depth book is Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by William Klein, Craig Blomberg and Robert Hubbard.

(Disclosure: I get a small commission fee from Amazon if you use the above links to buy the recommended books. This is one way you can support my work at Spirit of Error.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “The Bible Says It, I Believe It…But That Doesn’t Settle It”

  1. Mark Says:

    Another scriputre states “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good” and to “test the spirits”..We are not to be enslaved nor ignorant .Being dogmatic is not the answer and “having our minds renewed” with “wisdom from above” is the answer. 

    Again “by their fruit you shall know them….”

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