Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't read verses, read chapters. Don't read chapters, read books.

I was reading Raw Christianity today and Gunner had posted an interview he'd conducted with Todd Bolen. I was reading through it and one particular answer caught my mind so I wanted to share it.
If you would like to read the entire Q/A head on over to his site -> here.


You teach several classes that deal with scriptural narratives, and you’re big on understanding the (real) main point of individual stories in Scripture. Why do we so often misinterpret the meaning of biblical stories? Can you give us a couple examples of stories whose actual meaning is different than its traditional or surface meaning?

There’s no magic to understanding the Bible; its meaning is not accessible only to a few trained specialists. The often-neglected key to understanding is the context. We quote a verse about God knowing the plans that he has for us, without having any idea that this was part of a letter that Jeremiah wrote to his fellow citizens who had just had their homes destroyed, their families wiped out, and their bodies dragged off to live in Babylon. We read David and Goliath as if it is primarily about God helping underdogs, without recognizing that the giant that David really defeated was Saul. Don’t read verses, read chapters. Don’t read chapters, read books. This is more work than grabbing a verse and going, but accuracy has its rewards.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, I agree with this, but I still think that verses have their place in our faith and in encouraging others.

Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 is about people who lost everything. Does that mean that we can only share it with others when they have lost everything? I disagree with that because I DO think God has a plan for us and a purpose for our future.

How about David and Goliath. Should we not teach this story to children in the context in which their little minds can actually understand?

I use a lot of verses on Facebook and as encouragement to my friends and family. I seriously doubt they would read a whole chapter or book if I were to send them that in the place of a verse or three. Does that make sense?

I do like the point this post makes though, so thank you for sharing it :)

Destiny

flyawaynet said...

I agree with you Destiny, verses do certainly have their place.
I believe the necessity of his saying this because so many Christians ONLY shallowly follow verses.
A 5 yr old Christian happily quotes Jeremiah 29:11 imagining a glorious future that God has planned for them and they don't see the context of the verse. So when they find themselves in a situation where they've lost everything, they lose faith because verses like Jer 29:11 no longer seem to apply - when that is where God applies it.