I don’t believe in quoting Bible verses as justification for a specific belief.
The reason is because when one quotes Bible verses as “proof of correctness in belief” there are tens of thousands of other Bible verses people can throw back at you to not only contradict your proof of correctness, but then validate their version of correctness. I see this play out all the time, literally on a daily basis. What then happens is people start to incorrectly look at the Bible, and incorrectly use it, as a literary tool to battle correctness over its intended goal: [simplistically] how to better know the God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in learning principles on how to best bring heaven to earth.
Have you ever seen, or been involved in a conversation–which then quickly turns into an argument–surrounding immigration where one party is justifying their America should have open borders position based on quoting individual verses in the Bible, and then their opposition is justifying their illegal immigrant position based on quoting other individual verses in the Bible?
Or how about a conversation surrounding universal vs. privatized health care where both parities are quoting individual verses in the Bible?
Or how about the trueness of Jesus as Lord vs. atheistic non-belief? Or sin vs. acceptability of same-sex sexual behaviors? Or welfare? Or women teachers in the church? Or speaking in tongues vs. signs and wonders vs. dispensational beliefs? The list goes on and on.
Same Bible. Two views. Two strongly held beliefs that are to the individual’s mind, without a doubt, clearly “justified” in Scripture. One big problem…
Nothing ever gets resolved because neither are focusing on the overarching themes and narrative throughout Scripture. They are instead trying to formulate a practical theology based on individual verse(s) that cannot be generalized to present day circumstances. And then both parties walk away upset at the other; thinking they are more justified in their belief because they “stood up for their Truth” and that the other is using the Bible incorrectly.
The key is, they both are using the Bible incorrectly.
In a world where there are a variety of worldviews, quite divergent even within Christendom itself, one cannot seek to justify their view/opinion/interpretation from singular verses… or even a combination of singular verses strung together and calling it a “theology.”
Theology is focusing on the transcultural and transgenerational principles throughout the breathe of Scripture, and utilizing those as the basis for justifying something; a belief, judgement, thought, etc.
This way of understanding theology is important because the end-belief, judgement, thought is not singular. It is instead principled: which I define as the common themes continually revealed throughout Scripture. It is not dependent upon individual verse(s) generalizations. This process is what I call a Principled Theology.
From the formation of this Principled Theology (PT) as a hermeneutical base, individual verses can then be included under these thematic PT umbrellas. The individual verse(s) are then acceptably used to support the PT because the verse(s) are not generalizing anything, the overarching PT principles are. This is how I read and interpret the Bible. It’s how I talk about the Bible, understand the Bible and it’s what I memorize.
I don’t memorize verses. I memorize overarching principles in Scripture.
The reason so many don’t practice a Principled Theology is because you can’t just read a portion of the Bible and have overarching and reoccurring themes throughout the Genesis –> Revelation narrative become apparent. You actually have to read the entire Bible cover to cover, over and over and over again.
Nuance is difficult, and it takes painstaking time and effort. But culturally, even unfortunately religiously, it’s much easier and thus in people’s minds, much more efficient, to read a paragraph pick out a verse you like, one that also so happens to justify exactly what you already believe, and generalize from there. This is the exact reason why Christians of different denominations can’t even talk to each other! Such a heartfelt shame and loss…
For all of the reasons above, I created My One Sentence Bible series on my former blog back in 2009. You can find all of My One Sentence Bible posts to the right, in the Topics of Interest drop-down. For me, these One Sentence Bible principles are not an academic exercise, they are everyday conversations for me living in Boystown; specifically those conversations with others who are not working from the same Scriptural worldview.
My One Sentence Bible series, then, are the sub-principles shown within the text (actual verses), that fit underneath the overarching larger generalizable themes throughout all of Scripture. I go through the entire Bible in this fashion, and at the end, have ultimately addressed every verse. I hope you are able to get as much out of these studies as I.
How do you read the Bible and come to generalizable conclusions?