On Proof-Texting

I’ve always found ‘proof-texting’ to be disrespectful both to the Bible itself and also to the person to whom that proof-texting is being done.

There is a world of difference between showing occurrences in the Bible of phenomena or ideas (which is what I do with my Scripture references), and ripping verses out of context (both local and taking account of the whole Scripture) in order to prove a point.

For a while now, I have wanted to write a piece on proof-texting. But my friend Tim Chastain, author of the blog ‘Jesus Without Baggage’ has gone and beaten me to it 🙂 Good on yer, Tim!

Without more ado, here’s the link to his excellent piece which says all I ever wanted to say, and more!

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4 thoughts on “On Proof-Texting

  1. Tony, when I saw your title I was eager to hear your thoughts on proof-texting.

    sorry I stepped on you plans for a post on the subject. However, I am sure you have thoughts I did not express. I would love to hear them–perhaps in post or otherwise. It is an important issue for me as well, and I am always open to other thoughts on it.

    Thanks for the reblog.

    1. Hehe thanks that’s generous of you Tim 🙂 I will have to look through my notes and stuff to see if there’s anything else to add! But you weren’t stepping on my toes; I think that these days the Spirit is saying so much similar stuff to so many of us that as long as one of us gets it ‘out there’, that’s all that matters 🙂

      And I love reblogging your stuff!

  2. For completeness’ sake, I will also include this addition. I did indeed write back to Tim in response to his request in the comments above, regarding other aspects on this subject. Here is the point I raised:

    “There was just one such point.

    “It’s that proof-texting actually disrespects the recipient of the
    proof-text salvo.

    “First, it assumes that the recipient does not know their Bible, and
    needs to be ‘reminded’ or even told as if they haven’t read it at all.
    Granted, this is sometimes the case, but a proof-text is rarely couched
    in such terms that show respect for the recipient’s prior learning. A
    better way would be like Jesus did in saying, ‘But haven’t you read
    [this verse]?’

    “Second, it assumes that the recipient has to interpret that Scripture in
    exactly the same way as the proof-texter. Simply remembering that there
    are tens of thousands of Christian denominations is sufficient to
    illustrate that such an agreement on interpretation is not always achieved!

    “Thirdly, it does not allow the Spirit to have spoken Her own words to
    the recipient independently; this is as distinct from the above point
    about our own interpretation. It’s all very well us having different
    interpretations, but God has to be free to give us what He wants us to
    hear from any Scripture, and this may well be different from what others
    hear on the same Scripture, or even what the same person hears but at
    different times. Sure, it’s like doing the ‘God said it!’ claim, but
    actually that’s exactly what has happened!

    “In these ways, the autonomy of belief of the recipient of the proof-text
    is disrespected. But usually autonomy is not what the proof-texter is
    bothered about; usually it’s conformity!”

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