Butchering the Bible out of Context

by Josh Loveless

Why taking verses out of context is one of the most dangerous things we can do.

Though the Bible in its original form is inerrant, our interpretation of it is not. Being in a position of trying to understand God’s word is an intense place to stand. How we think about the Bible affects how we think about it applying to our lives.

Though all of us carry that responsibility differently, the weight of seeking to translate the message and the meaning of the story of God requires a sober assessment of what we’re actually reading. And especially how we apply it to our lives.

The truth is, I could find a section of Scripture and use it out of context to imply just about anything I wanted. I can make the Bible seem to support modern polygamy, slavery, hatred, homophobia, violence against women and even crusades against people of other faiths. This is not a hypothetical conversation. The Bible has become a tool for many to push selfish agendas that don’t represent the heart of God.

But not all of us are using Scripture to start a war. Some of us have just gotten lazy with doing the work required to interpret and apply Scripture. Whether you’ve had formal training on scriptural interpretations or not, we are all susceptible to misrepresenting a passage of the Bible.

The ultimate hope is that we would filter the individual commandments, verses and stories in the context of the Grand Narrative. It would help us to look at Scripture like a puzzle to be put together. To completely understand how all the pieces properly fit, we need a clear understanding of what the picture looks like on the box. Without looking at the overall picture, it’s impossible to know what to do with all the individual pieces.

When we don’t hold a clear view of the bigger picture, the danger is that in our frustration, we would not try to put the pieces together but would instead keep them separate. When the pieces (i.e., verses) remain separate from all the others, they lack the purpose they were created for—to be joined together with the other pieces, to create the image the Creator had in mind when the puzzle was first made…


RELEVANT Magazine – Butchering the Bible out of Context

The Poached Egg

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