When we pluck out a verse and tack it to our email signatures, we’re modeling this behavior. We’re encouraging onlookers to use the Bible in this à la carte way. If we inspire people to walk blindfolded, some of them just might do so on a cliff.
Reading the Bible in its proper context is so important that I (apparently) cannot stop writing about it. I’ve explained the dangers of ignoring context, and I’ve shown that we can still share Scripture responsibly.
I know I am arguing for a more difficult path. Verse-of-the-day calendars are easier and more inspiring. Studying the Bible takes work.
I hear other objections too. For example, it’s possible to conclude something true from the Bible despite missing a verse’s context. What’s the big deal? Only a real stick-in-the-mud would get worked up about this, right?
In our Context Matters series, we have tackled passages where the popular interpretation can be found in the Bible, just not (as we argue) from that passage.
Many people take the “where two or three are gathered in my name” verse as a promise by Jesus to be present with a small group of his followers when they seek him. In fact, God promises in many places never to leave his children, but this passage is about church leadership and the removal of a member.
So, it is possible to arrive at a legitimate destination through less-than-careful means. But this should make us praise God for his grace, not continue on in recklessness.
We Broadcast Our Method
When we share portions of the Bible with others, we are not only sharing our conclusions. We are sharing our method. We are teaching people how to use God’s holy word.
So, when we pluck out a verse and tack it to our email signatures, we’re modeling this behavior. We’re encouraging onlookers to use the Bible in this à la carte way. If we inspire people to walk blindfolded, some of them just might do so on a cliff. And quickly.
You might not see the effects first-hand. But using Bible verses out of context can have damnable consequences.
An Example: Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from Christians in important doctrinal matters, some of which are the direct result of ignoring Scriptural context.
This article is not intended to be a complete refutation of Jehovah’s Witness theology, so we will look at just two examples.