Applying Before Analyzing: A Common Problem

It goes without saying that Bible study is a necessity for Christians. It is not only use to initiate one into the worldview of the faith, but also to deepen one’s ability to evolve that worldview through the continuity of study. This does not require that one neglect the command to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13) in order to enclose his/herself in  ivory towers with those who, because of their biblical knowledge, are recognized as elites. There is no call to a monkish lifestyle in which an anti-modernity stance — involving the demonization of modern technology, clothing, etc. — is taken in order to perfect one’s knowledge of the Bible.

Now, in case some may be confused, which usually happens despite disclaimers, taking a step back from the hustle and bustle of modern life is profitable. Shutting down our technological devices in order to experience the sound of silence will do more good then one may suspect. The allure of “flossing” — used in the street to mean showing off what you got — drives us to expenditures that will only result in economic slavery to creditors and further resemblance to the Luciferian spirit of pride. So the far-right of Adventist conservatism does have a right to be concerned and to feel the need to withdraw at times.

Let’s get back to the topic. Since most will never go to a seminary and be instructed by seasoned theologians on the art of biblical exegesis, it behooves us to pay particular attention to recommendations that arrive in hopes of correcting common problems. Any proposal to provide a full exposition of the problems here is preposterous. However, one can reflect on a particular problem that is common in that it is one that many make, and that it is recurring to those that make it.

It is applying before analyzing. That is to say that often time Bible students contemporize a passage or a verse without analyzing the original situation. There are many reasons why this is done and one can’t assume to know them all. It may be that some are going through trying times and, in their haste to comfort their soul with inspirational words, read certain meanings into the text that may or may not be there. Of course there are some texts who’s meanings are pretty clear and thus most people who are within those situations usually go to those texts and therefore may not be in grave interpretive danger. However, this manner of dealing with the text is, in less trying times, used as the normative way of interpreting.

There are many who can further their interpretive ability but refuses to do so. This may be due to laziness or simply an attitude of indifference. There are many who are contempt with the way they have always done things and therefore calls to modifications will fall on deaf ears. As much as information is available, it is rarely used. Instead it is glanced at and quickly pushed to the side for the next, resulting in a lack of contemplation — which may be the real root of the problem. The problems that all these have caused so far is unfathomable.

How should these problems be address? That is easier answered then applied. There is always to be found in the pews of the church a coalition of the willing who will answer the call of handling scripture better. No one is perfect in this task, however, one should possess the urge to improve, if it is indeed believed to be the word of God. It is better to take time and be right then to rush and be wrong. The coalition of the willing should be taken by those who are knowledgeable in the art of interpretation. It is not difficult, however continuous application of it deepens one’s understanding of scripture.

In these teaching sessions, which should be done in warm and friendly environments, there should be explanations and examples given concerning how one should interpret and what have been the results of misinterpretation. Emphasis should be place on the need to allow the passages, as is, to flow through the mind of the readers until they become well acquainted with them. the objective is to be thoroughly familiar with the original passage. The next step would be to determine what is the Christo-centric principle that is to be found within that passage. Then, if one chooses to apply this passage to a contemporary situation, they can reflect on the original context and be able to determine if the principle is applicable and how it is applicable.


Author: Jerry Jacques

Jerry Jacques, is a native of Queens, New York. He was born in Cap-Haitien, Haiti on June 12, 1980. His purpose in setting up this blog is to think through biblically with others on theology, culture, and anything else that may catch his attention. His hope is that this blog will be a wonderful stopping point for all who visit. He enjoys reading, writing, movies, bowling, board games, and weight lifting. The views expressed here are the author’s own and not necessarily those of his church. If you are interested in getting in touch, write him at Special Interests: Apocalyptic Prophecy, New Testament, Book of Revelation, Book of Daniel, Book of Habakkuk, Biblical Interpretation, Comparative Religion, and Christianity in Contemporary Culture.

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