I want to start by saying that I understand that a number of you have an extensive Christian education. By this I mean you have some background in Christian philosophy and theology. I, however, do not. I am mostly self-educated on these matters, bringing my experience and my studies to bear on the issues I’m about to discuss.
So, if this is something you have heard before or there is some technical term for what I am describing, then just bear with me.
I found an interesting trend in the way that some folks interpret scripture. It seems to me that there are two ways of evaluating scripture that I hear often and both approaches a troubling.
The framework generally goes like this:
1) This passage of scripture says “x,y,z”, I agree with it, therefore it is true.
Here’s an example:
” Genesis 9:6 states that a man who sheds anothers blood shall also have his blood shed. Therefore, the death penalty is ethical from a Christian standpoint.”
2) This passage of scripture says “x,y,z,”, I don’t agree with it, therefore, we must look at the context.
Here’s an example:
(someone retorts to the above)
“John 8’s account of the woman about to be stoned demonstrates that Jesus is against the death penalty”
(guy for the death penalty retorts)
“We must look at the context. The woman was an adulteress, not a murderer. Therefore, the death penalty is still ok.”
Do you see what I’m trying to get at here? In the first example, the interpreter jumps past the rest of scripture to make a claim that is totally out of the context of all of scripture, but then when challenged, he appeals to the context.
And yet, some things from scripture must stand as independent truths. They may be enriched by the context, but certainly the context doesn’t need to be a necessary component. “Blessed are the peacemakers” comes to mind as a possibility.
Anyone else run into similar struggles with biblical interpretation along these lines? Or is it just me?
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