Monday, March 28, 2005


Lately I have come across a number of occasions where people quote a sripture in a way that suggests that the interpretation is self-evident, and it self-evidently agrees with them, and disagrees with me. My standard response to them is to ask "Can you please show me how the passage teaches that in context?".

Rarely is an actual effort made to justify the interpretation . Usually the response is to make some sweeping generalisations about how scripture teaches a thing elsewhere, as if if the presence of a teaching in one passage somehow proves the teachig exists in others.

Let me give an easy example in Romans 7. Is Paul referring to himself as a Christian there, or as a non-Christian? Personally I say he is referring to his life before Christ. Now, there are good arguments to support the idea that Paul is referring to the Christian life in Romans 7. However "Paul teaches that there is a struggle against sin elsewhere" is not one of them. I can agree that Paul teaches about the struggle that the Christian has with sin, in say Galatians 5, without having to agree that he is teaching it in Romans 7. The fact is, if you want to say that Paul is teaching abotu the Christian life in Romans 7, you are going to have to appeal to evidence from within and immediately around Romans 7. Galatians 5 does not fit.

Whenever I make that point in such a debate, I usually get accused of not allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. That isn't tue though. Allowing Scripture means letting clear passages help us understand unclear ones. It is not an excuse to let us take one clear scripture and override the teaching of another clear scripture. That practice is less "letting Scripture interpret Scripture" and more "cherry picking".

Enough for now. Blessings!

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