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How not to interpret Scripture and the Main Point

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  • How not to interpret Scripture and the Main Point

    I wish every member has listened to Voddie Bauchamís sermon (another forum post) and applied his admonishment. It is good apologetics toward unbelievers and liberal Christians who degrade the authenticity of the Bible.

    However, for the members there are a couple of things I think needs mentioning. In this post the first concern is addressed. Voddie Baucham called his sermon exegetical. Exegesis in the broadest sense of meaning is literary criticism with all of its branches. Christian studies uses the term less broadly. It is the opposite of eisegesis and may be best understood by first understanding eisegesis.
    Eisegesis is the explanation, not interpreting, a portion of the Bible using one's own presuppositions, agendas, or biases as if it is in the particular passage. This is commonly referred to as reading into the text. The act is often used to "prove" a pre-held point of concern. Eisegesis is also best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis is the process of drawing out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discoverable meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective (factual) when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective (opinion).

    Using this meaning the sermon by Voddie Baucham was an exegetical sermon, but generally, biblical scholars use exegesis when the original language text, the syntax of the passage, and definition from an original language lexicon are used. The issue is of concern to me because preachers and Bible teachers can use the terms exegesis or exegetical to give authenticity to their errant beliefs. It is normal for laymen or those without a formal biblical education to add their own assumptions, presuppositions, and biases to a passage, but it is inexcusable for the biblically educated to do this. However, it is done all the time. The most notorious American eisegesis applied the following Bible passages to ďproveĒ slave ownership was permitted for Christians:

    1 Corinthians 12:13
    For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

    Ephesians 6:5
    Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

    Colossians 3:22
    Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

    Colossians 4:1
    Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

    Revelation 13:16
    And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,

    And the Apostle Paulís Epistle to Philemon: Philemon being the owner of the slave Onesimus.

    Reading into these Bible passages as giving Christians permission to own slaves is eisegesis. These passages do not provide approval for slave ownership but only the acknowledgement that it is widely practiced in the ancient world. Just because something is mentioned in a passage does not imply approval or disapproval or that it proves something about another passage. The controlling content for a correct interpretation in all of these passages is about how people are treated, by the LORD or by Christians, rather than finding in the passage comments on their legal, social, political, or racial situation.

    Divine revelation as recorded in the Bible is not primarily concerned with the individualís status. Yes, the Gospel message is concerned about sufferings, blessings, righteousness, and sinners, but not about race, politics, education, money, occupation, and a bunch of other things. I thing the posts about a Christian being a soldier or policeman drives at this very point. Where you end up in eternity is what the LORD is primarily concerned. Otherwise, there would not be divine forgiveness. The Apostle Paul suffered physical abuse many times, but there is not a word from the LORD that shows concern. What was eternally significant about the ministry of the Apostle Paul was his preaching the Gospel and not how much he suffered or that he was murdered by the empire. Luke left off at the end of the Book of Acts the Apostles Paulís death as not important enough to record. Such an ending would have made an ending to the story in the Book of Acts, and the Holy Ghost did not mean for the story to end with the deaths of the Apostles.