Peter Enns says, in his book, The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read it, “The Bible isn’t a cookbook- deviate from the recipe and the soufflé falls flat. It’s not an owner’s manual- with detailed and complicated step-by-step instructions for using your brand-new all-in-one photocopier/FAX machine/scanner/microwave/DVR/home security system. It’s not a legal contract- make sure you read the fine print and follow every word or get ready to be cast into the dungeon. It’s not a manual for assembly- leave out a few bolts and the entire jungle gym collapses on your three-year-old. When we open the Bible, and read it, we are eavesdropping on an ancient spiritual journey. That journey was recorded over a thousand-year span of time, by different writers, with different personalities, at different times, under different circumstances, and for different reasons (23).”
One must remember that, when speaking of Scripture, it is only written for the modern reader and not to the modern reader. The concepts written in Scripture were to specific people for specific reasons. We MUST remember context!
Ignoring context is simply illogical. The two core genres of logic are deductive and inductive reasoning. When interpreting Scripture, one reasons inductively. Inductive reasoning is when one does not have all the information, and thus, can only have a conclusion that has a probability of being true, as opposed to absolutism. In other words, we are not God. We do not have all the information. Such reasoning admits that there must be some degree of humility because one is reasoning without having all knowledge. If a Christian believes that God alone has all knowledge, and that said knowledge is unsearchable, then how can the Bible have all the information? And if the Bible does have all the information, how can a mere human understand all of said information? Scripture tells the Christian everything he needs to know, not everything there is to know. Therefore, one must never infer that he has all the information, because, by necessity, he must reason inductively or else find himself severely inconsistent.
An example of inconsistency with the concept above can be found with the Ephesians 5:19 passage. Unfortunately, many in the churches of Christ (or any denomination) probably do not know what a hermeneutic is or even the importance of structurally interpreting a section of literature. However, there are some who do know. Ephesians 5:19 is a favorite “proof-text” (a verse one uses to attempt to prove his position) that Christians are not to use instruments in worship. The “law of silence” is an interpretive theory (aka: hermeneutic) suggesting that if God is “silent” about an issue that the reader must only do what He specifically commanded. “God only mentions singing, therefore, instruments would be sinful because they are against God’s will.”
If one applies the same logic to places like Romans 16:16, where believers are to greet one another with a holy kiss, not only would the law of silence demand each Christian to greet each other with a kiss, but it would also exclude any other form of greeting (hand-shaking, head-nodding, saying “hey,” etc.). James 5:16 says to call the elders when someone is sick, and they will pour oil on the individual. This would exclude going to the doctor or using any kind of medicine. There is context, and the readers do not always know all the details, so attempting to use deductive reasoning (i.e. reasoning from “silence”) is a poor excuse for biblical hermeneutics. There are many more passages that one could use to continue to show the inconsistency in this theory of interpretation. We must make certain that we have humility, pray for wisdom from above, and reason logically before having the audacity to exclude people based off of our human theories. – Jesse
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