This is Method and Madness post #5, I am Andrew Cline, and today I am going on a rant!
And I’m ranting because people have some interesting thoughts about the Bible so I’m going to tell you my favorite 5 ways people mess up that book.
1) Proof texting — This happens when a person takes a verse or verses out of its bigger context to make a point the Bible really isn’t saying. A great example is Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (ESV) A verse so many use when they need a little pick me up. But take 5 seconds to look at the passage’s context, and the author, Paul, was saying he could be content in all things, good or bad, because God had given him the strength to do so. Look the point you’re trying to make might be true, but don’t make a passage say more than what it’s actually saying.
2) Passive reading — This is the person who reads the Bible and he or she says, “the Bible says do this and don’t do that, so I’ll obey.” Now I understand, if you believe the Bible has authority over your life you want to do as it says, but can we please get beyond that 7 year old mentality of blind obedience?! When you read, actively engage your mind and wrestle with things. Ask yourself questions life, how does this actually work in real life? Why is God’s way better? What things do I have a hard time believing? Don’t let your default answer always be, “Because God said so.” Learn and understand how the ideas in the Bible work.
3) Treating the Bible like it’s medicine for happiness — This is the person that reads the Bible, believes it, and then jumps to the conclusion that life will automatically be better because he or she has taken their daily dose of Scripture. Whatever problem ails their soul will go away, as God showers that person with blessings. Reality check, when a person cracks open the Bible that’s God’s opportunity to crack open that person. And the full spectrum of thoughts and feelings are now at play. A person might get done reading and then feel convicted or sobered or frustrated or contemplative — and if that’s what a person needs then that’s good. So let’s not confuse something that’s good with something that will quickly makes us happier. It’s like a person going through physical therapy because physical therapy is about getting healthier, not necessarily happier. So if a person needs to be cracked open and feel something other than happiness to become a better person, then God will do that.
4) Ethnocentric reading — Ethnocentrism is a fancy word that in part means you use your culture to judge other cultures. So in my context, I shouldn’t let my perspective muddy up what the Bible meant to the original audience it was written to. This is about getting into the other person’s shoes, and seeing things from their perspective. For example, in Leviticus 19:28 God says to the nation of Israel to not cut or tattoo themselves. And a person from today would go, “Well, what’s the problem with getting a tattoo?” Well the problem wasn’t the tattoo it was the religion behind it. Trying to talk to the dead and worshiping other deities was the problem. So you can’t say, “Well that’s dumb” or “that doesn’t apply today.” Get past your narrow point of view!
5) Used to manipulate/suppress others — Now I have saved the best. There is nothing more disgusting when a person who is trusted to handle the word of God, uses the Bible to manipulate or suppress others. History is just packed with examples of people using the Bible to elevate their own power, completely ignoring Jesus’ example of being a servant and sacrificing for others — even to the point of death.
So those are my top 5 ways people mess up the Bible. So let me know what you guys think. Is my method on point or do I sound mad?
Plus what else could I talk about. Leave it all in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe. Once again I’m Andrew Cline for Method and Madness. Have a swell day.