How Some Christians and Unbelievers Take Texts Out of Context

Sometimes we take a single Bible verse and use it out of context, but what’s the danger in that?

The Whole Bible

Today we have access to the very breath of God, so says the Apostle Paul who wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2nd Tim 3:16), and it is so “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2nd Tim 3:17). The phrase “man of God” is actually “the messenger of God,” which he is if he refers to the Word of God since it is God’s Word and not the word of man. And Scriptures were never made to be used by themselves or standing alone. When we have that, we can come up with all sorts of doctrines or teachings, and we end up with snake-handling, poison-drinking churches. Prior to Jesus’ return to the Father, He commissioned them, saying, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16), “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18), so now there are churches that focus on handling snakes and a few, even drinking poison, but this was not what Jesus intended. He wanted them to bring the gospel to the whole world, not create a church that handles snakes to somehow fulfill Mark 16:18. This was written to the disciples and these things did take place in the first century, with Paul’s experience with a snake being a great case in point (Acts 28:3), but to distort this verse (Mark 16:18) and make it into a doctrine is just about as far off as we can get.

Context is King

To read or take a verse out of the Bible and to build a belief system over one verse is to risk using the verse out of context. A verse taken out of context can create a pretext, and often a false one, but today it seems that some Christians and churches do just, but that’s how cults are formed. One man told me that he seeks out a Bible verse each day by opening the Bible and quoting one verse, but what’s missing? The context! The context of the chapter and even the book can mislead people into thinking, “Well, it’s in the Bible so it must be true,” so snake-handling churches are born…or any number of other deviant belief’s that are in fact, not taught at all. If that’s how we get a “word from God,” then we could pick out “And Judas hanged himself” and then “go and do likewise,” and “What you do, do quickly.” That’s the danger of taking texts out of context because it creates a pretext and it’s often wrong. That would be like someone trying to assemble a product but only reading one line of instructions to the exclusion of the other ones. You’d have a jumbled product after you’re finished, but probably one that’s quite useless.


Through the Bible

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee and his program, “Thru the Bible” is a sterling example of reading the whole Word and being taught in the context of the chapter and verse. Dr. McGee always taught the Bible verse by verse, the way it was meant to be read and taught. His slogan, “Taking the whole word to the whole world” is indicative of this late pastor’s methods. He explains what certain verses mean by placing them in the context of and adjacent to the surrounding verses. It is far too easy to take one verse and build a belief system on that, but the risk is we’re not receiving the context of what the author is saying and that changes the meaning, and then the lesson is incomplete because we only receive one piece of the puzzle to try and fill in the missing parts. Also, when churches or Christians rip a verse out of context, they can change the gospel or the teaching of the Bible itself, and then, what frequently happens, is Jesus and the gospel is ignored, or at least, distorted. Things like handling snakes and drinking poison are emphasized to the exclusion of the gospel being taught and proclaimed, which is what Jesus commanded the disciples (Matt 28:18-20). Jesus never commanded anyone to handle snakes, so you can see how ridiculous it can get. Even worse, Jesus is pushed aside and beliefs (right or wrong) are pushed to the forefront. One church I attended years ago was so focused on tongues that there were 20 or more speaking (I will say) “something,” and all at the same time, but I had no clue what they were saying (if anything!), and I got zero out of that service, and tragically, Jesus’ name was only mentioned twice in the entire service…during the opening and closing prayer. How can that be!? Jesus is the Head of the Church, and for these believers, apparently Jesus is not as interesting as the gifts of the Spirit or handing snakes. I was even chastised by being told, “You’re not filled with the Spirit if you don’t speak in tongues” or as I remember, in 1986, “You must not be a disciple of Jesus if you’ve never spoken in tongues.” I asked him, “What chapter and verse is that?” No answer…just anger.


I hope you can see my point that we cannot take one verse out of context and use it to build a church or belief system. Some who persecute Christians do this too…they take an Old Testament verse and use it against Christians by showing that Christianity is brutal or unloving, and say things like, “This is what your religion is like,” but they do this while completely ignoring the New Testament and New Covenant, so believers are not the only ones who take a text out of context and use it as a false pretext in attacking believers or Christians. It’s like coming up to two people who are in a conversation and you only hear part what was said. That eavesdropping can give you the wrong idea, and besides, taking text out of context is a dishonest way to either teach the Bible or to criticize the Bible. Context is king and it always has been and it always will be.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    More irrational rubbish from your bottomless pit of it….The “perfect word” of a “god” does and should NOT require “context” If it were perfect then it should be instantly understood by everyone everywhere without need for any interpretation, context, explanation or apologetic. Hello?

    Your “old” testament is supposedly written by the same deity as the new. This shows only that either your deity is a psychopath bi-polar lunatic or DOES NOT EXIST! and the whole stupid incorrect, dysfunctional, superstitious book is a work of FICTION!

  • cjaym

    The question you have to ask is “what is the correct context?” My dad thinks that the correct context is that of an inerrant email sent directly from God to his follower’s brains, transcribed onto paper. I have another Christian friend that believes the context is one of an inspired, but not inerrant work. Which one, if either, is correct, and how do we know? After a while, it all looks like a matter of opinion.

    • pud

      It is entirely MADE UP! It’s a story book by no name religious lunatics expecting the world to end collated by a barbaric church and a bunch of lunatic priests under Constantine. There is nothing other than place names that is correct in this book. It is all fiction like every other religious text ever created.

      • cjaym

        I neither disagree, nor find this to be a helpful comment. When I was a believer, I would have read this and dug my heels in. Effective messaging is important and telling someone “everything you know is wrong” is not effective.

        • pud

          I KNOW that it’s all made up bullshit. Is that better?

          • cjaym

            This is a textbook example on how to not only not persuade someone, but to entrench them in their current position. If your goal is to persuade someone to give up the faith, I expect you have the opposite effect, and this is from someone who has given up the faith.

          • pud

            I want to destroy the cult…They are either swayed by reason, humiliation, ridicule or sweet nothings..I don’t care

          • cjaym

            Which is it? Do you want to “destroy the cult” or “I don’t care”? If you want to “destroy the cult”, you shoot yourself in the foot every time you post. If you don’t care, then why are you here? I’m just confused by your goal and how you hope to accomplish it.

          • pud

            No I don’t….I ridicule, humiliate, embarrass, deflate, disprove and destroy their claims…the ones with a working brain cell will ponder it the rest are hopeless idiots anyway

          • cjaym

            Thank you for the clarification. I hope you’re open to feedback on your delivery. Your current method likely has the opposite effect of the one you want. It causes you to come off as not caring about whether you have any effect. If you want someone to actually listen to you and be open to your point of view, you must treat them with respect, no matter how much you disagree with their position. If you want to continue to be an enemy of your own cause, by all means, continue.

          • pud

            I don’t view this as a popularity contest. I present rational arguments, ridicule, proofs, contempt…They can do what they want with it. I’m not here to handle their tender egos

          • Jack Wellman

            Well said. pud definitely doesn’t help her cause. Most unbelievers are not like she is.

          • pud

            Debate me ….one on one…let’s see what happens. Why do you cower?

          • Doug Barron

            Sure! Come on over to my house. We will sit on the porch and talk about your obsessive attraction to Pastor Wellman!

          • pud

            jack is a simple minded lunatic who makes his living lying to children…you’re just a run of the mill psychotic

          • Alonzo

            Jack, you are probably aware that atheist stalkers love to stir up acrimony on Christian websites. My suggestion is that you simply block them since their intent is to try to control discussion and take up space. Their comments are unworthy of discussion.

          • Jack Wellman

            Hello Salt. Yes, I have had to block some because of profanity and blaspheming God’s name, but I don’t want to block all atheists or agnostics because the majority of unbelievers are decent people who are not like Pud who had to be blocked, so I can’t read her/his messages anymore, but others, I don’t want to. Besides, we miss out on blessings from being persecuted (Matt 5:10-12). Does that make sense? Some have been blocked but I want an open dialogue for unbelievers as they (in fact most) are not like Pud.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”we miss out on blessings from being persecuted (Matt 5:10-12).”

            As a fellow Christian, I must take exception. There is no blessing in not calling people on their personal assaults. Even Paul pointed to his Roman citizenship when the Romans tried to punish him without a fair trial.

            I have discovered that a large number of atheists refuters of the Christian faith do not want an “open dialog.” Their only interest is ranting and personal attack. There is no open dialog in these means of shutting down discussion. They show that they refuse knowledge but only desire to shut down knowledge and dialog. They go off topic and pose loaded questions or engage in personal assaults. Furthermore, moderators of atheist website ban Christians because atheists cannot provide a defense for their faith.

            I do not allow such people to reply to my articles when they refuse to behave properly. See

            If atheists refuse to listen and show respect, we simply share the gospel then move on and refuse them a voice.

          • Jack Wellman

            Yes, some atheists do, but most, as I said, are not like Pud and are sincere in their questions, but for those that aren’t, does 1 Pet 4:14 make sense? I give non-believer’s a chance at dialogue. Yes, atheist websites do that, but not all atheists are like that. From my experience, most are not like Pud.

          • Alonzo

            Jack, this Pud and others like it are children coming online and doing nothing but stirring up acrimony. You can tell they are teens by the way they write. They are uneducated and rude. Most adults are not like that. I say most, because many are just as rude and uneducated. That is, they are not well read at all and know little about philosophy, religion, Christianity, or for that matter about the practices of living. Their remarks reflect their lack of education and their immaturity. Immature people rant and engage in name-calling. Their writing is atrocious, and they cannot make a decent arguement. They probably failed in their English classes. Most of all, they are not here for a learning experience but only to ridicule. So why put up with such garbage?

            I have confronted these immature people online for years and therefore know what kind of people they are. They think they are atheists or agnostics but have little understanding of philosophical positions. When I call them out on their fallacious arguments, they just launch personal attacks, showing just how uneducated they are. They parrot atheists with little understanding or graps of philosophical arguments. My experience on online discussions inform me that most atheists are just like Pud. It does not take them more than two posts to begin their ridicule.

          • Iain Lovejoy

            I don’t think “pud” knows what his / her goal is, or why he / she feels the need to hang around this blog throwing insults.

          • pud

            To destroy your delusional wretched cult.

          • Doug Barron

            Puddy hangs around because we need the comic relief! I have to admit it is wrong to laugh at pitifully ignorant and willfully stupid people like puddy, but, I just can’t help it. Keep up the comedy puddy! Love ya!

    • Doug Barron

      The Word is totally understandable and in context when presented and understood by the illumination of Father’s Holy Spirit. Apart from the Holy Spirit; study of the Word will be futile groping in the dark. That’s just the way it works.
      At eighteen years old, I read a bible commentary produced by Issac Asimov, a prolific science fiction writer, and immediately percieved that he did not have the Holy Spirit in his life. The work was a crippled cow! If you want to know knowledge of the Word, ask the Holy Spirit earnestly and openly, and He will freely give. But! Be careful! If you are sincere, you will be flooded with His insight and understanding. If you are insincere, all you will recieve is head knowledge.
      The hard part in seeking knowledge is; once you are granted, and recieve it, now you have to do something with it…or it rots on the vine. Kind of; “use it or lose it!” Don’t ask for what you really don’t want, because with knowledge, especially from Father, comes responsibility, but it is infinitely sweet!

      • pud

        LOL…so you have to believe in the cult in order to understand the cult! Got it duck hunter!

        • Doug Barron

          Quack, quack!

      • cjaym

        That begs the question of how you tell the difference between divine illumination and intuition. No amount of sincerity grants special insight into truth. Every interpretation of the Bible has someone that believes in it just as much as you believe in yours and my dad believes in his, one or none of which could be correct, if there is a correct way to interpret it.

        • pud

          Or your over active imagination…or peoples delusions that you buy into. Or “wish thinking” Or cult mentality. Or…

        • Iain Lovejoy

          I would agree (and I am a Christian): sincerity is no guarantee that one is correct. There are three possible answers that might be given, none of which provide the absolute certainty some would like:
          Internal consistency: interpretations that contradict each other or require complete reinterpretation of everything else in the Bible are depreciated by the Bible itself.
          External evidence:
          This particularly relevant for inerrancy: if the way you read the Bible consistently requires you to ignore facts well established by observation and science, you are reading it wrong (and this is a paraphrase from St Augustine, so this is not some kind of “trick” to rescue the Bible ;n the face of supposed “disproof” by e.g. evolution or heliocentric cosmology)
          “By their fruits you will know them.”
          The Bible isn’t a textbook, but is supposed to be a tool to promote faith, personal moral development and working for the good of neighbour and mankind. Interpretations which produce these things are those likely to be true, those which don’t, not so much.
          Wait and see:
          The Christian faith is nearly 2000 years old. Often the only way of knowing who is right is waiting for false interpretations to implode through their own contradictions, be proved wrong by future developments or for it to become apparent they produce horrendous results. It is a tragedy of Christianity’s history that we have so often refused to do this and attempted by force and dogmatic certainty to impose views which we “know” must be right.

          • cjaym

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply. This matches most of the views I’ve seen presented for the question. Personally, I believe that we are all taking bets on what the answer actually is, atheists included, but weigh the factors involved in answering the question differently.

          • Alonzo

            For what question?

          • pud

            There is NO external evidence whatsoever

            Your book has hundreds of contradictions

            Promoting faith is promoting gullibility

        • Alonzo

          You originally engaged the discussion of context. Now you shift the issue to illumination and interpretation. Do you want to hear about context or simply want to jump from one topic to another without sticking to your primary inquiry? What you are doing in going off on rabbit trails. That is not engaging a topic but hopping from one issue to another without closing the loop and drawing conclusions on your initial topic.

          >>>”Every interpretation of the Bible has someone that believes in it just as much as you believe in yours and my dad believes in his, one or none of which could be correct, if there is a correct way to interpret it.”

          The above statement is incoherent. An interpretation does not have “someone that believes in it…” The statement show the subject (“interpretation”) as possessing a belief.
          That is incoherent. Interpretation and belief are not the same You might wish to stay on topic.

        • Doug Barron

          The Holy Spirit alone gives understanding of scripture. That is why the Word states that without the Holy Spirit the Word is foolishness to man.
          The Followers of Jesus in the city of Thessalonica were commended for “searching the scriptures” to rightly divide the word being brought to them. They did not just assume that just because someone taught what sounded right, that it was right. They tested every word by the Holy Spirit. By earnest prayer and seeking. There were many false teachers creeping into the later first century church, and they were aware of this. I am very wary and aware of the many false teachers that are prevelant today, and yes through prayer, diligent study of the Word, and all things related to it, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have gained discernment. This labor is mine to undertake. No one else can do this for me. Pastor Wellman and I can share the Word, faith, knowledge, and understanding; but; his salvation is his, and my salvation is mine to work out. Jesus provided it.Father seeks relationship with each one of us individually. It is up to each indivdual to seek the face of Father; and accept His Son as their savior. I; nor any one else can do that for another.

        • Doug Barron

          illumination is given by the Holy spirit; intuition is based mostly on accrued experiences and experience.
          If that helps!

      • billwald

        I’ve been reading the text for 60 years and have concluded that it doesn’t “compute” as history, as science, as a functioning economic system, as geography . . . and I quit caring. The Holy Spirit testifies to my spirit that Jesus was resurrected and is our high priest. The details don’t matter.

        • pud

          LOL! Now that’s a great example of willful delusion and mindless wish thinking!

        • Alonzo

          The details of the text do matter. If they do not matter, then Chrisian faith can be based on fiction. That would not make it faith but presumption. The Bible speaks of faith in factual verifiable events and not in fiction. Furthermore, to say details of the basis do not matter is to undercut the foundation of faith. To claim that details do not matter would mean that the detail of Christ rising from the dead does not matter. That is total presumption and blindness and not genuine faith. The Apostle Paul claimed that if Christ did not rise from the dead, that Christian faith would be futile. To say that details do not matter is to discount all of the Bible and to make a judgment on the biblical authors that what what they wrote did not matter. That is faith in nothing at all.

          How can you believe in the resurrection if details do not matter? Rising from the dead is a very significant detail.

          • pud

            christian “faith” IS based on fiction! There are NO factual verifiable events. The ONLY eyewitnesses at the time were Jews who DID NOT BELIEVE! “paul was a murdering delusional psychotic who had visions…how many psychotic people who have visions do you model your life after?

            Dead men don’t come back to life…show otherwise

            “gods” don’t send themselves as sacrifices to themselves…hello?

            You and your cult have NO case

        • Doug Barron

          Hmmm! Indeed Jesus is our High Preist, and He is the Alpha and Omega! You have come to the conclusion of this after many years of study and seeking. I so admire you! Faith is knowing what we can’t always qualify or quantify in our own minds, but the Holy Spirit shows us. If you have invested sixty years in study of the Logos, and come to he simple conclusion that Jesus is; then you have indeed have arrived at the place of the ” faith of a child”. That is the very best place to be in Abba’s kingdom. Jesus said so himself! “Let the little children come to me, for they are what the kingdom of Heaven are made of”! That is true Shabbat Shalom!

      • Doesn’t biblical scholarship count, at all?

        • Doug Barron

          Indeed; biblical, and historical scholarship are extremeley important! I have devoted my life to learning and understanding the Logos and the Rhema. Though, without the Holy Spirit’s leading and illumination, all I possess is head knowledge. And, without love as the foundation and my driving force, it is all for naught!
          Pursue love. And puruse wisdom. But; most of all, puruse Him. All else will follow!

        • Doug Barron

          Sure it does! That is why people devote their lives to knowing all of the Word that they can! I do..I love the Word!

      • Paperboy_73

        Presumably that’s why Christianity is so uniform and lacking in denominational divisions.

        • Doug Barron

          Can you expand on your thought?

          • Paperboy_73

            I was being a little trite, but if the Holy Spirit was effective at illuminating the correct understanding of scriptures, you’d think there wouldn’t be thousands of differences in that understanding.

          • Doug Barron

            It is a shame that we as believers have so many divisions today. The first century church was united, but, as they spread the gospel into the gentile world, legalists and various philosophies crept in. Paul, Peter and other church leaders constantly battled these comprimizing influences. I study the Word daily to keep myself on the road and not in a ditch of false or errant doctrine, and I ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and understanding in applying and teaching what I am shown. Prayer and study are the best way to know the wil of Father. Be wary of men who say that they have some esoteric understanding or special revelation that is extra biblical! As the Word says: test every word to see if it is true!

          • Paperboy_73

            Do you really believe that your precise understanding of Christianity – alone amongst the tens of thousands of denominations – lacks doctrinal error? And that all of the others have failed to seek the Holy Spirit in the way that you do?

          • Doug Barron

            I really believe that Jesus lived, Jesus was crucified, His bod was entombed for three days, and that He rose again in a glorified endlessly existent body and He lives.

            I really believe that He gave Himself mortally and suffered the penaltyof my gross sins for me, in my stead that I can have eternal life with Him. He loves me that much.
            I believe in my heart, and confess with my mouth that this is so. No being, here or below can change this conviction, or alter my faith, period. And I am not alone in my doctrinal position. And to assume that because I state the way of learning, understanding, and how I came; and come to the knowledge of the Word, that I alone know the truth and and no one else does is arrogant is presumptuous.

          • Paperboy_73

            What I’m driving at is that, if the Holy Spirit makes interpretation of the scriptures simple, then everyone who seeks him honestly should arrive at the same interpretation in all cases?

          • Doug Barron

            Indeed we should. The accuser has quite a way of misleading people though. The Holy Spirit will not chase you down and force Himself down your throat. He is invited in, not in your life by force. Free will is the beauty of Father’s love; not force of will!
            We truly have free will, and Father says that ALL who are thirsty (spiritually), come! He will give us freely to drink of His Spirit and life! He doesn’t suffer idiots gladly though. He suffers the simple and the poor (in spirit). But the ones that think that they have Him in a box, or that He does not exist are in for a huge surprise. And He is the surpriser!
            Faith in Father and Jesus is a betrothal; a wedding dance; a joy to encounter and participate in! It is NOT religion! I despise religion. There are many who are involved deeply in religion; theist and atheist. These systems are just that: man made systems.
            And; yes, atheists follow a religious system.

          • Paperboy_73

            You’re missing my point, I believe. Presumably the fact that there are so many different interpretations implies one of two things:

            1. Almost everybody aside from the one true and correct denomination is failing to seek the Holy Spirit in truth, or
            2. Even if people honestly seek the Holy Spirit, it still isn’t simple, leading to a range of interpretations even among the devout.

            One of those things has to be true. Which is it?

          • Doug Barron

            Jesus established no “divided nations”.
            He said that when He ascended, that wolves would come in and scatter the sheep, and kill some. Jesus prayed for our unity, but,again; He/Father will not violate a person’s free will to choose unity, or division. Free will is the root of love. Pride is the root of rebellion. Pride empowers rebellion, and rebellion brings prideful divisions;(denominations), because pride sets it’s self up as it’s own highest god.

          • Paperboy_73

            Those are all very Christian words, but it doesn’t establish an answer to my question. You think the vast majority of Christians are misled (leading to denominational divisions)? If they all disagree, they can’t all be right.

          • Doug Barron

            I don’t think they are misled; just distracted.

          • Alonzo

            You are missing the point that your questions are loaded with your own claims and are therefore involve faulty reasoning on your part.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”if the Holy Spirit makes interpretation of the scriptures simple…”

            Again, you commit the fallacy of the loaded question by presupposing that the Holy Spirit makes interpretation simple. What is the source of your reasoning for this? Yours is faulty reasoning based on the fallacy of hasty generalization, again.

          • Alonzo

            Denominations really has nothing to do with the questions you asked. Your questions are what is known as the fallacy of the loaded question. That is, they include unsupported presumptions presumptions (“precise”…”tens of thousands”…all the others have failed [hasty generalization]).

            What do you consider “precise?” You failed to identify these “tens of thousands.” Your “all…” is globalized and therefore is the faulty reasoning of hasty generalization. What “doctrinal errors?”

            Therefore, your questions are really invalid because of the above.

          • Paperboy_73

            I think you’re missing my point a little. I’m saying that I don’t think it’s as simple as the original poster suggested, and I’m using denominational disagreements between the faithful as evidence that devout seekers of truth can still wind up faithfully at different interpretations (because scripture is complicated). Something which your posts would actually seem to agree with.

          • Alonzo

            I am addressing your faulty reasoning. You also digress into the presumption that my posts are angry. Such a response is evasive and not an argument on the merits.

          • Paperboy_73

            That post is basically the entirety of my reasoning. Scripture is complicated and devout seekers of truth can disagree. The existence of denominations provides evidence for this, but I don’t think we a priori disagree on either of my two claims.

            I’m enjoying our spirited agreement.

          • Alonzo

            Let me show you how your reasoning is faulty:

            PREMISE #1 “Scripture is complicated”
            PREMISE #2 “Devote seekers of truth can disagree”
            CONCLUSION: This existence of denominations provides evidence of this.

            Your first premise is the fallacy of hasty generalization. You have not given any support for it or shown that it is true or why.

            Your second premise has no relationship to the first premise.

            Your conclusion has no relationship to either premise and is therefore a non sequitur.

            Therefore, your reasoning is faulty and unsound. I do not agree with faulty and unsound reasoning. Therefore, there is no agreement.

          • Paperboy_73

            Oh, I see. You’ve misunderstood the flow of reasoning. What you’ve labelled as a “conclusion” was never meant to flow from the “premise” in the first place. Doesn’t really matter though, because you seem to agree with both of the points that you’ve labelled as premises, and that’s the entire point of the discussion.

            Since we agree on the destination, I have no desire to clarify the journey. Suffice it to say that I think you’ve misunderstood me, you almost certainly don’t think that, and we’re not going to agree on that any time soon. Which is fine by me.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”You’ve misunderstood the flow of reasoning.”

            Another hasty generalization and false.

            >>>”What you’ve labelled as a “conclusion” was never meant to flow from the “premise” in the first place.”

            Oh, you intended to be irrational? Got it.

            >>>”because you seem to agree with both of the points that you’ve labelled as premises, and that’s the entire point of the discussion.”

            It seems you really have a reading problem. Why would I point out your faulty reasoning if I agreed with it? Another digression and evasion on your part. Your claim is just outright false. Quit trying to make excuses for yourself.

            >>>”Since we agree on the destination, I have no desire to clarify the journey.”

            Incoherent reply and a non sequitur. Your two claims has nothing to do with the discussion. You are just being evasive again.

            >>>”Suffice it to say that I think you’ve misunderstood me, you almost certainly don’t think that, and we’re not going to agree on that any time soon.”

            Another logical fallcy of shifting the issue and faulty reasoning. The person communicating is responsible for clarity and not the reader. I suppose you did not learn that in your English composition classes.

            You have not supported your claims, so you run away from them by pointing to others. Such pointing is evasive. Evasiveness means that you have come to the end of your capacity to reason and therefore shift the issue to the other person. Not sound reasoning.

          • Paperboy_73

            I wasn’t going to keep engaging, because I don’t think it’s serving any real purpose, but I find my idle curiosity forcing me to ask one last question. It’s an honest question, and there’s no rhetorical nonsense underlying it. I just truly want to know.

            Of the two items that you labelled “premises”, which do you actually disagree with?

          • Alonzo

            It is quite obvious that you have little understanding of critical reasoning. I suggest you purchase a book dealing with reasoning skills.

            Reasoning is not about disagreement with a certain premise or whether one labels them as such. If you had knowledge of critical reasoning, you would not be asking such questions.
            The fact that you assume someone “labelled” a premise demonstrates that you do not understand one when seeing it.

            You also do not know about logical syllogisms, which informs me about your reasoning skills. I suggest that you purchase a book on logical syllogisms so you will be able to not only recognize them but also apply them.

            In other words, your question is irrelevant.

          • Alonzo

            Unfortunately for you, I read your last comment that got deleted, “You must be a hoot at parties.”

            You just exposed your deceit.

          • Paperboy_73

            Yeah, I was writing this off as a waste of both of our time. But that question just wouldn’t stop bugging me, so I decided to come back and ask it instead.

            That said, it’s like you see a conversation as a zero-sum game where someone wins and someone loses. That certainly must be delightful at parties. 😀

          • Alonzo

            It must be embarrassing for you to reveal your dishonesty to all in an open forum

          • Paperboy_73

            Deleting comments on a forum isn’t dishonest. It’s part of the software functionality, like editing comments (which we all do all the time). I stand by the comment – I just realised I had something to add instead.

            On that topic, any thoughts on my question?

            (This is an edit, so we’re clear) Also, public is a stretch; if you think anyone is bothering with this comment chain other than you and me, you’re being a touch overambitious.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”but if the Holy Spirit was effective at illuminating the correct understanding of scriptures, you’d think there wouldn’t be thousands of differences in that understanding.”

            73, you omit a very significant teaching of the Bible while relying on it to attempt to support your point. The reason that there are numerous and conflicting understandings of the Scriptures (should be capitalized since it is a proper noun) is for the following reasons:

            1. The current generation is nearly 2,000 – 4,000 years removed from when the Scriptures were written. People tend to read the Scriptures incorrectly through modern eyes and understanding.
            2. The Scriptures were written in ancient languages. Most read them in English and through contemporary culture.
            3. The Scriptures were written in another culture, geography, and time frame different from our. Modernists tend the read the Scriptures from contemporary culture, languages, and different gregraphical areas. That lends to misunderstanding.
            4. Modernist ignore the author’s intent and read their own meaning into the Scriptures..
            5. All are seperate from God and have gone their own way. In doing so they read the Scriptures based on their rejection of God and truth.

            The caus and effect in your claim are not necessarily connected. Yours then is the logical fallacy of faulty causation.

          • Paperboy_73

            Doug_Barron said that understanding the scriptures is simple if one truly seeks the Holy Spirit. That’s the point I am addressing.

            Nothing you’ve said there really has anything to do with the point.

          • Alonzo

            I was addressing your point because it fails to consider many variables as I pointed out and is therefore a hasty generalization. Your cause (Holy Spirit’s effectiveness) and effect (many interpretive differences) is faulty because it fails to consider all the variables I mentioned. My claim has everything to do with your claim. However, you can ignore what I said and rely on the faulty cause and effect you surfaced.

            Indeed, the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, but God also gave us brains and a mind to gain knowledge and understanding. That is, God gave us the ability to reason. He also gave us the ability to discern truth from error.

          • Paperboy_73

            It really seems like you should be taking issue with the post I was replying to, rather than me.

          • Alonzo

            I take issue with your statements because they are based on faulty reasoning as I pointed out.

          • Paperboy_73

            I’m still not certain you understand what I’m driving at. Especially since I think we actually agree for the most part. You’re just agreeing with me in a really angry way.

    • Alonzo

      You appear to confuse context and the nature and means of the writings themselves (inerrancy, inspiration). Context deals with the language, culture, historical period, audience, and author intent. Inerrancy and inspiration deal with the nature and means of the communicated writings, that is, how God communicated Himself and His will to humanity and if He preserved the writings in such a manner so that humanity could know Him. These two categories (context and the nature of communication) are not the same. Then you conclude (…a matter of opinion…) that because there are differing views on the nature of God communicating, that is, the nature and means of the biblical writings, that one’s approach to the Bible is a matter of opinion.

      That is a false conclusion based on the categorical confusion about the Bible. Biblical inspiration and inerrancy are also different categories. Inspiration deals with how God spoke through the biblical authors in such a manner that they revealed God and His will without which no one could know Him. Inerrancy deals with the accuracy of that which God communicated so that God’s truth came through in spite of the imperfection of the communicator. The English term used in the Bible for
      “inspiration” means “God breathed.” Inerrancy is a totally different explanation of the Bible as I stated earlier. To even confuse these terms would lead to totally wrong conclusions about the Bible.

      Context and the nature of the Biblie are not matters of opinion but of applying logic and reason to the evidence from eye witness accounts of actual historical events. An opinion can be true or false. Sound reasoning must be based on truth claims and reality and not fiction.

      • pud

        There are NO “eyewitness” accounts. There are thousands of “eyewitness” accounts of UFOs. You can show the “truth” of nothing claimed by the cult. You do not reason at all let alone practice “sound” reasoning. The buybull is a work of fiction.

      • So is a book that has God command the Israelis to commit genocide, including the mass slaughter of defenseless women, little children and babies God breathed? The wars against the Canaanites and, about 400 years later, against the Amalekites were nor just wars. When Joshua entered the promised land, he not only exterminated all in many of the cities (as God is alleged to have commanded) but, to make sure he did a thorough job, he burnt the cities to the ground.

        • Alonzo

          So, bringing up the old genocide logical fallacy. First, you engage in the logical fallacy of shifting the issue, and by doing so fail to make any counterargument to what I wrote. Your argument fails and is void at this point alone before you go any further. Therefore, all that follows is irrelevant to the discussion.

          Second, have you not read the counter arguments to this age-old fallacy thereby making your argument naive and uneducated? It is apparent you have not.

          Third, your claim is the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. You rush to judgment on God by judging Him by your own unsupported, faulty, and finite standard.

          Fourth, you ask a loaded question. It is tantamount to asking, “When did you stop beating your wife/husband?

          Fifth, your fallacious questions has so many faulty claims in it that you embarrass yourself with it. Who says what God did is genocide? By what standard do you use to claim genocide? By claiming genocide, you assume a standard of truth that is universal for all including you. Furthermore, by making accusations against God, you assume perfection for yourself.

          The Apostle Paul says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3)

          And here you are judging God! Who are you to judge your Creator by your standard of judgment? In your judgment, you condemn yourself, for you have not lived an upright life yourself according His perfections. You also load up personal accusations against God without a basis for it except your own standards. You also assume evil of some and not of others. Your claims must be backed up by your knowledge of the circumstances. But because you demonstrate no knowledge of the circumstances and the Bible, you invalidate your own accusations with hasty generalizations. On what do you base your judgments? You state none. That alone makes you entire claims null and void.

          You refuse to note that all the Canaanites were idolators and were guilty of rebellion against God. Your own sin is like theirs in that you accuse God of wrongdoing, and in doing so reject Him and commit idolatry by depending on your own judgments.

          Now stay on topic. I will not again address any of your uneducated, faulty, and accusative rabbt trails. They show that you are not interested in knowledge and learning but only in accusations and bitter personal assaults.

          • pud

            LOL pitiful. Who are we to judge Hitler? How do we know he didn’t have a greater purpose in mind? The Germans sure thought he did for a while.

            You lunatics cannot even get to first base! You cannot demonstrate that any of the 10,000 man made “gods” were ever real, You’re presuppositional idiots who do the most contorted gymnastics to support your preconceived superstitious notions.

            Your “paul” was a murderer who had psychotic visions! This is the dude you orchestrate your entire world view around?

            Your “all loving god” killed 33 million according to your stupid deranged ancient book written by lunatics yet it’s all ok somehow in your deluded mind? Gentle jesus meek and mild is coming someday to finish off the rest!

            You’re sick. You have a mental illness

          • Well said! pud.

          • pud

            It’s mind blowing to me that these people can think like this…They concoct their entire view of reality around the ancient words of people they don’t even know who lived in a barbaric superstitious apocalyptic time..murderers no less…and no matter how many contradictions you point matter how convoluted you demonstrate their thinking to matter how impossible their claims are….they find a way to justify the most abominable and absurd things! It really is a mental illness they suffer from.

          • D.M.S.

            Yes it’s mind blowing that so little of the world can’t see the destruction that they’re leading themselves into.
            And so many have the opportunity to accept Christ Jesus into their lives and deny His existence.
            Absolutely Pitiful!

          • pud

            Only the mentally ill believe in absurd nonsense that lacks any evidence whatsoever….You clearly are mentally incapacitated and incapable of rational thought

          • D.M.S.

            Thats exactly what the bibles states that is how the world will look at True Christians.

          • pud

            Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out! LOL

          • D.M.S.

            God/Jesus has been trying for thousands of years to get all of us to repent and live for and love for Him. But mankinds defiant arrogance has to pay for their choice to defy God /Jesus. And mankind has the audacity not to like the consequences of their own actions. That sounds about right.

          • pud

            You’re a delusional lunatic. Stupid bumpkin too no doubt

          • D.M.S.

            You’re welcome to hate me.
            Christ Jesus loves you, as he does everyone.

          • pud

            Don’t hate you at all…I feel sorry for you. You are clearly delusional, ignorant, stupid and without hope of that changing. Keep talking to the invisible voices in your head just don’t vote or teach children your wicked blood cult ok?

          • D.M.S.

            Im going to teach as many children as possible at school that I can about the great love of God/Jesus. So they may have a chance at salvation from this ungodly world.

          • pud

            Hopefully none of them will listen to your absurd lunacy

          • D.M.S.

            Probably at least 20% will believe in God/Jesus and the great love He has for all of them and that will be fine with me.

          • pud

            If you’re in a state full of idiots …which you probably are

          • So is it okay to slaughter little children and babies?

          • pud

            And all the animals too! Clearly the goats and lambs were corrupt sinners who the almighty couldn’t reason with so had to slaughter.

          • Alonzo

            STAY ON TOPIC and reply to my arguments. No more until you do.

          • D.M.S.


          • Alonzo

            On what basis do you make your statement? When did you stop abusing, raping, and violating your wife, husband, sister, brother, children, mother, dad?

          • JRene

            Give it up. You sound pompous and for nothing. Think. Your grandiose statements lack logic and reason.

          • Alonzo

            Ad hominem. Not a reply on the merits.

          • Jason Beaver

            > And here you are judging God! Who are you to judge your Creator by your standard of judgment?

            Isn’t this the whole purpose of the supposed “free will” that we have been given? So we can decide whether or not we want to follow God and love God? How do we make this decision without first judging God?

          • Alonzo

            Please define your terms: “free will.” There are multiple philosophical definitions of free will. Which one do you use? Until you define free will, you cannot determine if you have it. Otherwise, you assume that you have something you have not and cannot define.

            Furthermore, until you can define your terms, you cannot conclude the means by which one follows God. Again, there are numerous theological theories about deciding to follow God. To which do you refer? Your question is void until you first define your terms.

            Your last question assumes that there is an association between making a decision to follow God and judging God. On what basis do you make that association?

            You also assume a faulty cause and effect relationship between a given decision and judging God without showing that the cause and effect is valid through a logical syllogism. You have not validated the cause and effect relationship. You do not show correlation of the two events, and without showing a correlation, you cannot demonstrate causation.

            Your questions are the logical fallacy of the loaded questions. That is, you have faulty assumptions built into the question. Furthermore, your questions are the logical fallacy of a yes and no conclusion. This is also known as the fallacy of the false dilemma. Therefore, your entire questioning approach is based on faulty reasoning.

            You might want to read a book on reasoning before you continue this discussion.

          • Jason Beaver

            > Please define your terms: “free will.” There are multiple philosophical definitions of free will.

            Choose whichever one you subscribe to, and then kindly answer my question.

            > Until you define free will, you cannot determine if you have it.

            Perhaps you didn’t read my post very carefully. I am not claiming to have free will. The claim that we all have free will is a typical Christian claim. Do you disagree that I have free will?

            > Furthermore, until you can define your terms, you cannot conclude the means by which one follows God. Again, there are numerous theological theories about deciding to follow God. To which do you refer? Your question is void until you first define your terms.

            For the purposes of my question, use your own beliefs and theories in the matter.

            > Your last question assumes that there is an association between making a decision to follow God and judging God. On what basis do you make that association?

            It stands to reason. Upon what basis can I make my decision to follow God unless I have made some judgments about God? Does he exist? Is he morally good? Is he worthy of my love and devotion? How else will I make the determination to follow God unless I make some judgments about him? If there is an alternative here, please explicitly state it.

            > Your questions are the logical fallacy of the loaded questions. That is, you have faulty assumptions built into the question.

            Like what for instance?

            > Furthermore, your questions are the logical fallacy of a yes and no conclusion. This is also known as the fallacy of the false dilemma.

            What false dilemma have I employed? Are you going to actually explain my fallacies or do I have to guess at them?

            > You might want to read a book on reasoning before you continue this discussion.

            Thanks for the suggestion. Now here’s my suggestion for you. Why don’t you stop evading my question and just answer it? I’ll repeat it for you: How can I decide whether God is worthy to be loved and followed without judging him?

          • Alonzo

            >>>”Choose whichever one you subscribe to, and then kindly answer my question.”

            No, no, no…you are the one who brought up and claimed free will without defining what you mean. It is not up to me to choose whatever I want it to be but for YOU to define your terms. Your reply is the logical fallacies of evasion and shifting the issue. Below is your statement:

            >>>”Isn’t this the whole purpose of the supposed “free will” that we have been given?”

            You clearly claimed “the “free will” we have been given.”
            In your statement you claim we have been given free will. You use the first person plural “we,” which includes YOU. Therefore, unless you defines your terms, your argument is faulty.

            >>>”The claim that we all have free will is a typical Christian claim.”

            Your above claim, again, consist of the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. It is an unsupported premise and just your opinion. You state free will is a typical Christian claims but provide no evidence from theologians. Faulty reasoning.

            >>>”Do you disagree that I have free will?”

            Again, you engage in the faulty reasoning of shifting the issue. You bear the burden of the argument since you brought it up. Again, faulty reasoning.

            >>>”For the purposes of my question, use your own beliefs and theories in the matter.”

            Again, you engage in faulty reasoning of shifting the issue. YOU are the one who must communicate what you mean with YOUR ideas. They are not my ideas but yours. You are being evasive because you do not have a counterargument to my rebuttal of your claims.

            >>>”What false dilemma have I employed?”

            You show you do not know how to engage sound reasoning by not knowing that posing a question that demands a yes or no reply is a false dilemma. It assumes that no other reply is possible but “yes” or “no.” I also gave you an example, and here is the correlative question for that answer: “Have you stopped beating, raping, and abusing your wife, children, sisters, brothers, dad, mom?” You struck out again and again and again.

            Now reply to my rebuttal or fold your cards and go home. You continue to engage in faulty reasoning because you do not understand that you do so and appear uneducated in sound reasoning. If I have to explain your fallacies to you, then you demonstrate your obvious lack of education in sound reasoning.

            >>>”I’ll repeat it for you…”

            You can be repetitious all you want, but until you define the terms you use in your claims, you cannot frame a cogent and sound argument but will continue to engage in incoherence. When you make a claim, you bear the burden of defending it. Asking questions is not a defense of your claims, especially when they pose false dilemmas. Now go buy a book on logical fallacies and a dictionary. I do not discuss issues with uneducated people. I am not your teacher!!

            With that, I will ignore you until you offer a reply to my rebuttal of your arguments, and shifting the issue is not a sound counterargument.

          • pud

            There’s no such thing as “free will” Every thought we have, every thing we do is the product of an infinite line of causality that preceded it. This is inescapable. You choose the egg mcmuffin because of every event that impacted your life up to that moment you “think” you made a free will choice.

          • Jason Beaver

            I tend to agree with you. And religious belief is clearly not a “free will” choice, as it is determined by the time, place, and culture of our birth..

        • Jean Camille

          Part 1. This article is about seeing things in context. How better to explore the theme than with juicy examples.
          I will break this into 3 parts to avoid the spam bot.
          To set a context, I count myself a sceptic, about 80% of the time. The other 20% I am sceptical about scepticism because it is too purely cerebral. Apparently, we have at least 3 semi-autonomous regions in our nervous system: brain, heart and intestines. It is no metaphor to listen to our gut, use our brains and go with our heart. The hunger of the gut for food, the brain for stimulus and the heart for transcendence are equally realistic. Humanistic materialism says individual life is a journey to a dead end. In that, it fails to meet the hunger of our whole person for meaning. Reason is necessary but not sufficient for understanding our lives, or the Bible. It is by no means certain that humanistic materialism is an adequate philosophy of life. 1/3

        • Jean Camille

          Part 2. In that context, I choose to view the Bible in its own terms using its own working assumptions.
          So what is it with destroying people groups, little children, the lot?
          The Bible assumes a degree of free will, enough to choose to go God’s way or our own way. The evil we see is ultimately from going our own way. Every action has its logical consequences. If I gamble away my assets, my dependents, my children, lose their home. That is fair and reasonable, completely predictable. But something in us revolts against this scenario. How do we escape this logic trap? By doing something unreasonable and irrational: you divert some of your assets from your dependents to help my children, even though I do not deserve it and my children have no right to it. That is the irrationality of love and compassion. The victims of evil have no logical right to anything different from what they got. Their only hope is from unearned, unmerited love and compassion from someone outside. 2/3

        • Jean Camille

          Part 3. The Bible assumes there is more to life than meets the eye. Phase 1 is in the womb, phase 3 in front of God forever, and phase 2 here, where we get to choose to go God’s way or our own way. Whatever we get will be fair and right because we chose it. However, the love and compassion God shows in giving us chance after chance to make a healthy choice is way beyond reason. In Genesis 15:16, God knew the path the Amorites were on but He held off judgment four generations, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” By that time, their rejection of God was complete. There was no hope that any child from that group would be any thing but self-obsessed. Why did that make it the end of the line?
          The Bible further assumes that any creature exposed directly to the full force of God’s presence would experience excruciating pain if they had even the slightest inclination to go their own way. Today, that will include all of us unless we have been fully covered under Christ’s protection. For the Amorites, the only compassionate option left was to kill off the whole culture.
          Looked at in its own terms, the Bible is reasonable, realistic and is hard hitting, not for people who are precious or pretentious. 3/3

  • Doug Barron

    Thank you for an excellent article! Keep it up! Let the blank avatars rant. They just add to the belly laughs as they tantrum!

    • pud

      It’s an irrational illogical stupid article…no wonder you lap it up! Quack quack!

    • Al Cruise

      Belly laughs??? Most people I know who are baptized in the Holy Spirit roll on the floor when they laugh.

  • David

    This is what the “faith-only-ask-Jesus-into-your-heart” movement has been doing for centuries. For example, saved by grace through faith, as in Ephesians 2:8, implies repentance and baptism, as can be seen by extending the context of the Ephesians to Acts 19 where we learn that to receive the Spirit one had to be baptised in Jesus’ name, or even Ephesians 4:5, where “one Lord, one faith and one baptism” are all mentioned together. Acts 2:36-38 shows that believers in Jesus needed to repent and be baptized to be forgiven, and Colossians 2:6-14 reveals that to receive Christ as Lord includes faith and baptism. In fact the whole context of Colossians 2:6-14 expresses the same conversion truth as Ephesians 2:1-9 … just in different words!! In Acts 18:27, those who through grace had believed, were the same Corinthians who had believed and been baptized. Acts 18:8. What was that you said? Context?

  • David

    … and then there’s the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23, except that in context the gift is shown to be given when Christ’s teaching is obeyed in baptism!! Read 6:1-22 and see how clearly this is taught. But you’ll only see this if you’re interested in context. Are you?

    • pud

      It’s a STORY BOOK~!

      • David

        But what a story, and it has a “you can live happily ever after” ending if you’ll just believe!

  • Sam Andrew

    You make a good point about quotes being taken out of context to prove any point. On that I’d raise a query re the New Testament taking the Tanakh out of context, e.g. in Matthew, speaking about Jesus and his parents fleeing to Egypt and then returning….

    “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called My son.” Matthew 2:15 uses Hosea Chapter 11 as the Prophet, the issue here is the context of Hosea Chapter 11 is clearly that of speaking of the nation of Israel as Gods son –
    “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images”

    It’s fairly obvious Matthew is taking Hosea out of context. In the very same Chapter Matthew goes on to quote Jeremiah re the ‘slaughter of the innocents’

    “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet saying: In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted, because they are not”. Matthew 2:17-18

    And again it seems this takes Jeremiah 31 out of context quite wildly as later in that chapter it explains how these children were exiled but will return
    “Thus says The Lord. A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more Thus said the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears. For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in the end, says the Lord, that your children will come again to their own border.” Jeremiah 31:16-17 – sounds pretty up beat in the end, I don’t think the massacred children can come back to the land?

    Would these be examples of taking verses out of context within the New Testament, they seem taken well out of the context of surrounding verses by Matthew? I certainly agree with the conclusion “we cannot take one verse out of context and use it to build a church or belief system” but doesn’t this seem to be what the writer of Matthew is trying to do? Or are there different rules because they are apparently prophecies or within the canon of scripture itself?

    • Alonzo

      Sam, you never explain how the gospel writers take the prophets out of context. When you make a claim, you must be able to support it, but you have not done so. So, unless you can offer an explanation, your claims and questions have no merit. It does not appear that you have read scholarship or exegetes on the gospels. I would suggest Bloomberg, McKnight, and NT Wright as a start.

      • Sam Andrew

        umm yeah i did, i gave a clear example of how Matthew used Hosea as a prophecy related to Jesus sojourn in Egypt, but the text of Hosea he sites appears to be non-prophetic and not related to Jesus at all, and the same for the Jeremiah, Matthew claims it as a prophecy about Herods slaughter, but the context of passage from Jeremiah is clearly about the exile in Babylon centuries before. If you don’t consider that an example of the gospel writer taking the prophets out of context i don’t know what is. I have indeed read many works by NT Wright, Geza Vermes, James Dunn and others, but my personal reading list should not effect asking a question.

        • Jean Camille

          My guess is that the rules are not the issue; rather our tasks are different. We are responding to God’s word across language, time and culture; the writers were transmitting God’s word under direct inspiration from God. If they felt God was drawing an association between the past and present events, then I would expect them to write it that way whether they understood clearly or not. Next, given the points you raise, it seems I will change my understanding of prophecy. It appears there need not be a one-to-one correspondence between the pre-figuring event and the prophesied event; a partial correspondence is enough. They catch me out like that. Their thinking is way different from mine. Makes for an interesting journey. Thanks for raising the issue.

          • Sam Andrew

            Thanks Jean for your thoughts, I find your point “It appears there need not be a one-to-one correspondence between the pre-figuring event and the prophesied event; a partial correspondence is enough.” very interesting, as it raises an interesting question in my mind of just how small that correspondence can be and still really count as a prophecy. Perhaps Matthew was using the older prophets more to, as you suggest “draw an association”, like a literary device to emphasize continutiy in Israels story, than implying the old prophets predicted he future.

          • Jean Camille

            I like your phrasing: “to emphasize continuity in Israel’s story.” If we elaborate, the connection comes both by similarity and by contrast. Where God’s “son”, Israel, came out of Egypt and rebelled, God’s son, Jesus, came out of Egypt and remained faithful, thus redeeming the past rebellion. Herod’s massacre of the innocents, in a sense, repeated the massacre of Rachel’s earlier descendants at Ramah. That earlier event was not the end of hope; so too this later event. The prophetic message: Even with this devastation, there is hope.
            In the context of Hebrews 1:1 these texts are prophetic: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” This implies prophecy can occur in a variety of ways, that is, beyond prediction alone. Essentially, it is whenever God speaks through a spokesperson. In this context, Matthew was doing nothing of concern.
            Actually, this discussion is heartening: Where we have inflicted harm on others, we can ‘buy back’ the hurt through Jesus. Conversely, where we have been treated savagely, that hurt can bear seeds of hope in Christ.
            In my church tradition, these words would be encouragement for many and prophecies for others. It all depends on the context.
            Thanks again, Sam. You opened an uplifting line of discussion.

        • Alonzo

          Umm, no you did not. You simply offered a straw man. You failed to read what I said and then misrepresented what I wrote. I said nothing about “examples.” I said, “You never EXPLAIN how the gospel writers take the prophets out of context.” An example and an explanation are not the same. Therefore, you still have not explained what you claimed. It is quite apparent that you have not read NT Wright or you would have EXPLAINED prophecy instead of giving examples. I am unconcerned about the other two liberal scholars.

          • Sam Andrew

            I did explain my point via a clear example, I can’t imagine how to explain any clearer, there was no straw man, only clearly cited, chapter and verse examples of what I consider a prophecy in Matthew being based on an out of context quotation. This is hardly a forum for extreme detail, and i think my example was sufficient to any normal reader to understand, Jean Camille below understood quite well. It is clear you are playing semantic games re explain v example, and labeling people as ‘liberal’ scholars shows a dismissive attitude. Just because i have read NT Wright does not mean I agree with his conclusions or methods.

          • Alonzo

            No matter how many times you say something, that does not make it true. You have given nothing to demonstrate that you understand the various contexts of Scripture (there are many), that you know anything about the correlation of the OT and NT, that you even understand Jesus when He said that all that Moses wrote, the prophets declared, and the Psalms revealed about Him (Luke 24:13-35) pointed to His acts in history. You have explained nothing. Giving examples is not an explanation. Saying something is “fairly obvious” say nothing. Simply quoting passages is not an explanation. That is all you did. You never delved into the passages you cited within their respective contexts. You treat them as though they are isolated from one another, which they are not. All you did is give your opinion, and you failed to explain your claims.

            Then you read into my remarks when I ask you to explain your claim, and you claimed to gave “examples.” That was the straw man in case it went over your head, which it did. You really need to learn how to read critically when someone makes an inquiry of you.

            You need to read my original reply to you again, because you failed to address it.

          • Sam Andrew

            You either don’t get it or don’t want to, i was asking about how those passages connect, my example showed that from my reading i don’t understand how they context – That is why I asked the question!! Asking a question with an example of the issue you are asking about is not opinion. Keep playing your run around word games if it makes you feel good.

          • Alonzo

            Wow, you do not even know how to read what you wrote. You made claims:

            “It’s fairly obvious Matthew is taking Hosea out of context.”
            “And again it seems this takes Jeremiah 31 out of context quite wildly…”
            “Would these be examples of taking verses out of context within the New Testament, they seem taken well out of the context of surrounding verses by Matthew?” This one is a run-on sentence with a question and a claim. Yes you made a third claim.

            You never explained the claims but went on to say they were examples when I asked you to explain them. That is evasive.

            Besides, your above claims digressed from Jack Wellman’s main thesis. He was not speaking of the biblical authors. If you would have read Wellman’s article carefully you would have understood that he was not speaking of Scripture using Scripture, as Jesus Himself often did. Your claims really had nothing to do with the article at all and Wellman’s intent. In doing so you were going out of context, the very thing Wellman cautioned people not to do.

            We have testimony from Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul affirming that the Old Testament spoke of Him coming. Peter brings out that when the prophets wrote, they were perplexed over what they themselves wrote when they prophesied,

            “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

            When the prophets prophesied to God’s people, the Holy Spirit guided them to speak not only to His people then but also to the people of susequent generations. What they prophesied and what subsequent biblical authors wrote were contextually within the scope of God’s context. He moved both the prophet to speak to his generation and the Apostles to apply the prophetic word to their generations and to us. Otherwise, you would have to accuse Jesus and His Apostles of misusing the Scriptures.

            There are numerous contexts out of which they spoke and through which we understand the Scriptures. We have even more contexts than the first century readers: language, history, culture, author intent, and so on. The first century readers had no need of those contexts because they were part of them.

            You appear to miss the entire point that God inspired ALL the biblical authors to write to various audiences with a view that all audiences are multi-generational. When Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke wrote to their respective audiences, the relevance of what they said did not stop with those particular audiences written some 30-50 years after their interaction with Jesus. No, their messages hold true to us today as it did with their original audiences. We interpret what they said within their respective contexts I mentioned earlier and come to see God’s redemptive plan brought forward from the Law of Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles. God speaks through the various contexts to convey His redemptive message to all audiences of all times. God does not take things out of context. He created those contexts!!

            Seeing contexts from this view makes greater sense, because it brings the whole of Scripture into view, and it shows the thread of redemptive truth flowing through the ages from the prophets to Jesus and His Apostles as they also wrote. You need to go back and read the original prophecies to see how they span generations. They do.

          • Sam Andrew

            I said “seems” to be out of context in Matthew, the overall intent of my post was as a question to understand why people think they might be in context possibly in spite of the original context of the passages he quotes from the Tanakh. So maybe I didn’t put all the necessary caveats in, guess what humans make mistakes when they try and put thoughts to words.

            Wellmans article was about people taking things out of context from the bible, his conlcudng line was clear “I hope you can see my point that we cannot take one verse out of context and use it to build a church or belief system” What is wrong then with asking whether the writers of the New Testament, who in part created the Christian belief system (only in part as the living community of the church was far more important than the texts before they were agreed on/compiled), may have taken things from the Jewish bible, the Tanakh out of context? Not everyone who considers the Tanakh as scripture considers the NT as scripture as well, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in learning from those who do about how they relate to each other.

            “You appear to miss the entire point that God inspired ALL the biblical authors to write to various audiences with a view that all audiences are multi-generational. “
            Maybe so but which particular passages are for communication to all generations – there are numerous prophecies and addresses to prophets that are clearly about their own time, and kingdoms/politicians that no longer exist (e.g. curses against Babylon in Jeremiah 50). Pauls letters for example were addressed to specific churches, and could easily be considered as having context only for the churches he was writing to at the time he was writing.

            How can we tell what is for every generation and what is not, that is a key issue in considering what scripture is applicable to different contexts, I think it is a very fraught thing to work out.

            Anyway I think your main point is “We have testimony from Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul affirming that the Old Testament spoke of Him coming.” The problem I see with that is you are taking Pauls and the other authors opinion on scripture (the Tanakh) and looking at the OT through their lens, rather than letting the OT speak for itself, in its historical pre-Christian context first and then seeing if what they wrote and believed matches with its context.

          • Alonzo

            >>>””It’s fairly obvious Matthew is taking Hosea out of context.”

            You were very clear about contesting the authors of Scripture rather than learning from them.

            I am not interested in arguing with you since you ignore the substance I wrote in favor of a “he said/he said.” You failed to reply to what I said about context, demonstrating that you are not interested in learning about hermeneutics (principles of interpretation). Context is only one, but very important, element of hermeneutics. Prior to engaging in a topic on interpretation and making claims about it, you should read up on hermeneutics. Your statements reveal that you are not knowledgeable in that area.

            It is obvious you do not reread what you wrote prior to posting.

          • Sam Andrew

            “Prior to engaging in a topic on interpretation and making claims about it, you should read up on hermeneutics. Your statements reveal that you are not knowledgeable in that area.”

            Seriously you think you have to understand a topic before you can ask a question about it? I hope you never work in customer service, I can see it now “You should read up on coding before asking about why your computer doesn’t work”.

            Yeah I contest the authors, I’m challenging what they wrote to try and understand, what is wrong with that. If anyone ignores the substance its you, you’ve ranted about the way I asked a question and not the question and issue itself, you don’t have to tick boxes before asking something, that is what inquiry is all about. A generous person looks at the issue raised and addresses that, they don’t pick on the manner an issue was raised.

            Jean understood and we shared mutually enlightening ideas, Miranda gets it and offers some resources.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”Seriously you think you have to understand a topic before you can ask a question about it?”

            You have to know what you are talking about prior to making claims about a topic and challenging biblical authors. You made a number of unsupported and naive claims about the biblical authors without knowledge. I pointed out your claims, and you just hide behind denial.

            All you have done is engage in speculation and logical fallacies I have pointed out to you. You also demonstrate that you have not done your homework or necessary research into theological history, hermeneutics, of the languages of the texts to contest anything about the Bible. You have not shown that you know the necessary scholarship or have even read the biblical scholars. If you knew these things, you would not be asking questions that have been already answered by Old and New Testament scholars and professors at Bible colleges and seminaries.

            You do not show that you are at all acquainted with research materials such as “The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology,” Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels,” Dictionary of Paul & His Letters,” “Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Development.” You have given no citations about works related to Old Testament quotes in the New Testament on which many have written. Until you can do so, your claims are of no value.

            So, to comment on a topic and to contest reliable biblical sources, you have to know something about the topic, and you have not shown that you do. Opinion does not count unless such opinions have support from qualified sources, and you do not show that you know any qualified sources discussing Old Testament quotes in the New Testament.

            You said that you were only asking questions. That is NOT true. You made statements like, “Yeah I contest the authors, I’m challenging what they wrote to try and understand, what is wrong with that.” Such statements are not questions but ways of baiting people in a discussion. Then you act surprised that people would even contest your “questions” as though your questions were genuine. They are not, especially when you turn around and flatly make claims that show your questions as suspected bait.

            They are naive and uneducated claims you make. So, be truthful to others in this discussion and to yourself. You simply contradict yourself when you make such claims. You show that you are not interested in truthful answers but only in contesting people who disagree with you. That is not being honest. So be honest or leave this discussion. I can see through your shinanigans as I have seen through others who come on Christian websites and contest biblical faith or ridicule Christians.

          • Alonzo

            >>>”Keep playing your run around word games if it makes you feel good.”

            Ad hominem and a copout.

            If you do not understand, then why don’t you do research for gaining understanding? If you do not understand, then why make braodside claims that the NT authors quoted the OT out of context? Making a claim without understanding and knowledge is irrational.

          • Miranda

            I think Mr. Andrews point is fine. In college I volunteered for Jews for Jesus, and these types of questions are very common amongst the Jewish people I spoke with, they take the words of the Prophets very seriously and see many things we Christians see as being about Jesus as being about their people, goodness Isaiah 53 especially! Plus what better way to explain something than with an example as he did!

          • Alonzo

            Miranda, it is one thing to ask questions for seeking knowledge. However, it is an entirely different matter to ask questions while at the same time to take a solid position on the same issue. In this case, Andrews actually questions the veracity of the biblical authors by claiming they took OT prophets out of context without any evidence, explanation of demonstrating that he did his homework to support his claim.

            Furthermore, in his subsequent reply, he actually misrepresented my remarks and creating a straw man argument. When I called this to his attention, he denied he did this when his reply are open on this discussion board for all to read.

            >>>”Plus what better way to explain something than with an example as he did!”

            No, he never offered a hermeneutical explanation concerning the citation of NT authors (gospels, etc.) in their gospels. Many scholars of the NT have offered such explanation, and I also did in a subsequent reply. However, he ignored my explanation and never once cited any supportive explanation for WHY the NT authors cited OT passages.

            Did you read my subsequent reply?

            Indeed, Isaiah 53 is a great passage that refers to Christ, because Jesus applies it to Himself. In such a case, Andrews would then have to admit that Jesus was wrong by taking it out of context. Making a claim without evidnece is not seeking knowledge but actually being pretentious.

          • Miranda

            Goodness Salt you’re taking it far too seriously, this isn’t a university debating club! It’s just sharing thoughts and opinions, ideas and questions like in real life, these things are all muddled up in people’s words. Chill out take things in a spirit of inquiry , not everyone understands hermeneutics, but the word of God is for everyone to question and probe no matter what they know or who they are, that is the beauty of scripture! I think his point about context was fine, as I said this is something I’ve heard many Jewish people raise in the same way, they don’t need to explain the NT prophecies, Christians do. Don’t be so picky, be generous, understand a person’s point don’t poke at it.

          • Alonzo

            Miranda, thoughts and opinion are only valid is they follow sound reasoning. Otherwise, they really have little value to anyone else but you.

            >>>”It’s just sharing thoughts and opinions, ideas and questions like in real life, these things are all muddled up in people’s words.”

            Muddled thoughts, opinions, ideas, and questions are incoherent unless they follow sound reasoning. Sound reasoning is what makes ideas coherent.

            >>>”Don’t be so picky, be generous, understand a person’s point don’t poke at it.”

            The above statement is irrelevant to the topic. It goes to the person rather than to the argument presented in the article. It sounds like you do not like to be challenged. If that is the case, perhaps another venue would be more to your liking.

            By the way, I don’t chill out and lighten up when it comes to truth and error. I challenge people I believe commit error in their assessment of biblical faith or make erroneous claims about it.

          • Miranda

            You are very technical that’s for sure! Who determines what is sound reasoning though, reminds me of my twins arguing over things ‘that doesn’t make any sense’ ‘yeah it does’ ‘no it don’t’! Everyone reasons in their own way, that’s the way it is, you’re very precise, other people are not. If that’s how you like to comment on sites go for it, but it’ll put a lot of people off .

          • Alonzo

            Wow! There you go again, making a red herring argument, going off topic and making the issue about me rather than the subject article. This discussion IS NOT about me but the content of the article. Therefore, your reply is irrelevant and ends up being a personal attack. Those who come to end of their ability to answer an argument use the distraction of the red herring. I suggest you look it up.

            In your evasiveness, you discuss other issues other than those in the article. I will only briefly reply to them but refuse to be taken off topic much more than a brief reply with you.

            Reasoning is innate to all people. People instinctively know sound reasoning but a lot of times choose to take the irrational and faulty reasoning route. That is, nobody “determines what is sound reasoning.” That fact is fundamental to a basic education.

            If “everyone reasoned in their [sic: subject verb conflict] own way,” then humanity would not make any progress in math, the sciences, language studies, or any other discipline. In fact, if everyone reasoned in one’s own way, it would be impossible for people to communicate. They would not understand one another. If some decided that their own reasoning compels them to use all nouns and another’s reasoning compels them to use all verbs, they could not communicate. Language itself is based on reason. Furthermore, our judicial system would not exist, a discipline based on sound reasoning.

            If your teacher gave you a math assignment to solve for 50+50 = ?, and you replied with 150. She would mark it incorrect. What would your reply be? “Everyone reasons in their own way?” You would receive an F.

            To say, blue smells like a rose, and the number 8 taste like snake oil is incoherent. However, according to your claim, “Everyone reasons in their own way.” Your claim is divorced from reality.

            Your example of your twins is a poor example. Disagreement over something is not the same as reason. Disagreement involves reasoning but in and of itself is not reason. You confuse categories. Reason is the means by which one draws conclusions. It is not the conclusion itself.

            >>>”If that’s how you like to comment on sites go for it, but it’ll put a lot of people off.”

            The statement above is irrelevant and incoherent. But of course, people who use faulty reason are put off by those who use reason and logic. I encounter such backlash like that frequently from unreasonable people who like to make the person the issue and then engage in personal attack as you are doing.

            If you are put off by reason, then do not reply to my posts. It would be unreasonable for you to continue to reply unless you used sound reasoning about the article.

          • Alonzo

            By asking “Who determines sound reasoning,” you suggest that you do not know the source of sound reasoning.

            So, here is my question to you, “If you do not know the source of sound reasoning, how do you even know if you are applying sound reasoning in your replies?”

    • Miranda

      You raise some good points Mr. Andrew! Obviously you have great respect for the Old Testament and concern for the Prophets! I would recommend you look into works by Dr. Michael Brown and Jews or Jesus, they have many books and pamphlets explaining the relationship between the New and Old Testament from a more Jewish point of view and great right into the details like this.

      • Sam Andrew

        Thanks for the suggestions I’ll check it out.

  • Linguagroover

    Quite. For example, it’s best to write off all of 2 Peter since it is a forgery, making a false authorial claim for polemical reasons.

    • Alonzo

      I see no support for your claim. Says who?

      • Linguagroover

        I recommend perusal of Bart Ehrman’s work – particularly Forgery and Counterforgery if you prefer your text liberally peppered with Greek and German. He says 13 of the 27 New Testament books make false authorial claims in their texts.

        • Alonzo

          Ehrman turned away from the Christian faith and now disputes its claims. His arguments are not new (i.e., The Jesus Seminar, et al) and derive from his atheistic/agnostic views, which is naturalism). He and his books have been refuted and shown to be in error a number of times over by numerous authors. I have no interest in reading what an atheist claims about the Bible unless I wish to delve more into the topic for writing an article. I have read some of his published works, and frankly have little time to spend on his books.

          Daniel Wallace has shown that Ehrman’s studies are invalid ( as has Thomas Howe (, Rodney Decker (, and many others.

          People who attempt to use Ehrman as an argument against the Bible simply cannot marshall one up themselves. Ehrman is not reliable.

          • David Cromie

            “He and his books have been refuted and shown to be in error a number of times over by numerous authors”. Name some of them.

  • To understand a text, I agree that we must read it in its immediate and broader context and see each part in relation to its whole. (This is a distinct question from the truth content of the book).

    Everyone approaches any document with a set of presuppositions which may influence how we interpret the text. Ancient texts have both written and unwritten contexts. The unwritten contexts to the text would be shared by the first hearers/readers of the texts (since the bible is not only one book, but a library of books put together over about 1000 years or so).

    We ought to apply the normal rules of grammar to the text, in its context. We must try and understand who the authors were (if that is possible), what theological biases (if any) the authors may have had, whether there are multiple voices in the bible or not, and if there are, whether these voices have divergent views or not, and if there are divergent views, whether these divergences are ones of complementarity or contradiction.

    The date, authorship and composition of the books of the bible are significant in understanding the texts in their context. Various forms of literary and textual criticism seem to be essential for understanding the text in its context. .e.g. textual criticism, historical criticism, literary criticism, form criticism, rhetorical criticism, and reader response criticism.

    This is this illiterate, uneducated person’s response. It is the response of one who is ignorant and doesn’t want to learn. The latter (doesn’t want to learn) is patently false. I am just unconvinced of the reliability of the text in its context.

    • Jean Camille

      John, I am interested to understand your perspective.
      For you, what does it mean for a text to be ‘reliable’? And why ‘in its context’?
      What would convince you of something? If you were convinced the Bible was reliable, how would your behaviour change?
      Why do you focus on being convinced (rather than, say, being inspired, fulfilled or given inner peace)?
      You also say you want to learn. What is it that you most want to learn? And on this forum?

      • The best way to understand any text is in its context, otherwise we can make it say anything we want it to say. There is both a written and unwritten context to the text of the bible.

        “What does it mean for a text to be’ reliable’?” This is a difficult question. Do we mean that it is’ literally’ reliable (accurate) or historically ‘reliable’ (accurate) and what do we mean by accuracy? The biblical authors write with different literary genres and we need to understand these if we are able to understand the bible properly. And do we allow for myth to be a legitimate literary genre? It seems to be used in other ancient literature so, if it is not legitimate, why is it not?

        Some would claim that we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but there are many different points of view on the bible given by those who each claiming to be led by such a Spirit (God). This includes biblical scholars claiming to be led by the Spirit.

        I find that there seem to be different points of view within the bible itself.

        What I want to be convinced is whether the bodily resurrection of Jesus occurred or not. It seems that this is the most important issue on whether the Christianity is true or not. If Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave, then Christian faith is futile.

        My life would not probably change since I am a humanist who believes in compassion, healing-mercy and loving kindness towards both myself and others (though I often fail). This gives me inner peace. I believe that if God does exist (which I doubt somewhat), then he would be compassion, healing-mercy and loving kindness.

        • Jean Camille

          I like what you say about context. I assume ‘unwritten context’ refers to culture of the day etc. Would it be fair to say that your ‘reliable/accurate’ text is one in which things are as the text said they would be, in a colloquial sense, ‘true’ to reality?
          They tell me myth summarizes the philosophical and cultural heritage of a people in story form, often built around actual events that have been idealized. I am comfortable with myth on that basis. Would that make sense to you?
          I am not sure what the concern is about one spirit guiding different voices. Each viewpoint adds a different perspective to the whole. Is that not normal? Or do you feel the divergence makes the whole incoherent, perhaps even self-contradictory?
          You and Paul, the apostle, agree on the resurrection: If it did not happen, then Christianity is just one more philosophy. I am sure the authorities at the time were smart enough to see that. They still could not produce a body.
          But I was asking a more technical question: What method would you apply to convince yourself and come to a conclusion one way or the other? Would the standard methods of historical research be best in this case? After all, it is an historical claim.
          To me, it sounds like your core driver is to practice compassion, healing-mercy and loving-kindness to the best of your ability (yet, like the rest of us, with an occasional “time out”). Then, naturally, you would feel revulsion over Bible passages that seem to affirm violence and immorality. Have I understood you so far?
          Thanks for your thoughtful response to my questions, BTW

          • Your concept of myth makes a fair amount of sense to me. The stories in ancient Israel were told and retold, reshaped to some extent in the retelling over long periods of time before placed in writing (e.g. Pentateuch).

            However I am not sure if I could agree with it entirely or not. Miracles reported in the bible seem to be myth, though if the God of the bible actually exists, then some of them seem possible, but I don’t see much hard evidence that an intervening God exists. Extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence.

            The alleged bodily resurrection would require a great deal of evidence to support it and, if it is supposed to be an event that has occurred in space-time history then good, hard historical evidence would be required to support it.

            You have understood me relating to the revulsion I find in regard to the Canaanite slaughter, the violence and apparent immorality of the text Thanks for your very intelligent response.

    • David Cromie

      The so-called ‘bible’ is, as you say, a collection of books. However, the context is that its scribes were rehashing extant legends, myths and folklore, i.e. existing Pagan myths, which a superstitious, illiterate, people were already familiar with.

      The purpose of adapting these Pagan sources was to instil among the Israelites the idea of a monotheistic alternative to their current polytheistic beliefs, dressed up as ‘the one true god’ myth, and thereby empower the propagators of this world view with the right to decide the fate of the people in a novel regime of superstitious servitude.

  • pud

    Rational Quote of the DAY!
    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”

  • David Cromie

    How would it be possible to take the Yahweh of the OT out of context? Is the supposed ‘god’ of the OT not the same supposed ‘god’ of the NT, whose ‘law and the prophets’ the Jew, JC, claimed to uphold, while today’s christers tend to cherry-pick when deciding what to ignore, and what to follow?