Thursday, August 16, 2007

What is The Truth IN Context?

I guess I should explain the title of my blog. What concerns me most today is the woeful state of discernment exhibited by modern American Christians. There is a tendency to practice eisegesis—reading one's own ideas into the text—instead of exegesis—pulling out of the text what was meant by the original author. Eisegesis is much easier to accomplish if one rips texts out of context. But remember, pulling a text out of context makes for a pretext, which cloaks the real intention of the text.

We have to understand that Bible is one story, from start to finish. It is an historical-redemptive story. The focus is on God and Him reconciling His people after we rebelled. The Bible addresses many issues humanity has faced, is facing, and will face, but it is always in the context of what Christ has done.

So, having said that, I think I have laid the groundwork for the next few posts I will have about the state of preaching today, and also the current fad of new "worship" songs.

Until next time, please do not ever forget 2 Cor. 10:5.

In Christ,


Mark M said...

Hi Alan. Nice to read your blog. I completely agree with your posting.

I have a related question: Do you think strict adherence to a systematic theology can become a form of eisegesis?

When I hear someone say, "I'm a Calvinist" I am reminded of 1 Cor. 3 where Paul warns against saying "I am of Paul" and "I am of Apollos". Paul, Apollo, and Calvin where all godly teachers, but of course our head is Christ alone.

Similarly our view of Scripture (and the entire world) should be based on the Bible. Systematic theology is good, but I have seen some men avoid the obvious contextual meaning of Scripture so that if fits their system.

Your thoughts?

Alan said...

Mark, thank you for your post and your question. Not only can systematics become a form of eisegesis, most times it starts that way. Having taken the first class from an Arminian-Restoration movement school using Jack Cottrell's book, I can say there are some out there who eisegete more than I would have thought possible.

Your second point I agree with also. My friend Jason, who went to school with me, and is reformed as well, would get almost violent when someone called him a Calvinist. I do not get violoent, but it does make me uncomfortable for the very reasons you brought up. Luther wanted his people called Evangelicals. I think we should avoid calling ourselves by anyone person's name other than Christ.

Systematics has a very important place in our study of theology but it must be just that, a part of the whole.

Thank you for such insightful comments and questions. Hope to get to St. Louis again soon and see you guys.

Alan said...

Mark, I got to thinking at work and wanted to make sure I understood your question correctly. If you mean that sticking to one systematic theology as opposed to allowing many to influence one's thinking, then I would have to disagree. I do adhere to a firmly reformed systematic theology all of the time. To change my theology at different times based on anything is not enlightened or modern, it's irrational. If I am, for example, a supralapsarian today but tomorrow decide to be infralapsarian because the wind blows a different direction, this is not "being open" it is schizophrenic. It amazes me that some forms of thinking are tolerated in the theological realm that, if applied in other areas, such as law enforcement or many others, would get people locked up. I hope between the two posts I answered your question.

Mark M said...

Thanks Alan. Good answers. Your first post was along the lines I was thinking of.

Alan said...

Mark, I thought so. Sometimes when I think to much strange thoughts come into my mind. God bless

Anonymous said...

A text out of context becomes a pretext. Okay, that's the second reference to a line overused by the Bible Answer Man. I'm surprised you don't link to CRI from "Links that tell the truth."

I must say, eisegesis is rather tiring. Fifteen years ago, I attended an independent Baptist Bible college, after having grown up an IFB. Even then, the question ran through my head while I listened to so many of them preach, "Where do you guys get this stuff? It's certainly not in the text!" Unfortunately, that kind of preaching is hard to get away from. Not only will they read their own fantasies into the text, they'll take the easy way out and neglect to keep the text their preaching in the context of the redemptive work of Christ. To this day, I have to go look it up and consider the redemptive context on my own, in order to fortify my faith with the gospel.

Reformation of the church remains among the first things I beg God for when I pray. I don't always mean to, either, it just kind of comes out sometimes.