By Max Strange
People often approach the Bible only from the perspective of their immediate personal circumstances. This means they interpret strictly in terms of the events going on around them. One such instance, a woman told a Christian counselor that God had told her to divorce her husband and marry another man (with whom she was romantically involved). She cited Paul’s command in Ephesians 4:2, “Put on the new man…” as the key to the decision. Yet, this new man is not literally a new “husband.” This new man is the Christian who is no longer the old man but one who has been born from above and commanded to be what one already has become. Another example that makes the point is of a young man who, at the brink of decision, had to determine whether to enlist in the Armed Forces or go to college. Opening his Bible at random, he saw a passage in Ezekiel that spoke of people coming from Tarshish to Tyre in ships (27:25). Based on that, this young man saw this as his call to join the Navy.
Next, we see how some people do not see the cultural distance between us and the original audience. In Leviticus 19:19, God commands His people not to wear garments that are made of two kinds of material. If this is so, we might as well throw out everything in our closets that blend fabrics such as wool, polyester, micro fiber and cotton and go back to the organic fig leaf. It is important to understand the context, the author’s meaning and the intended audience before one goes so far as trashing all his clothes that are made of two fabrics.
Other verses are grossly slashed by proof texting. People use Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” to mean that they can succeed in anything they set out to do. Also, Psalm 127:3-5 speaks of sons as a heritage from the Lord and a man who has many has a full quiver of arrows is surely blessed. This popular passage, used often in weddings, is interpreted by to mean that God is commanding couples to have large families. In 1 Samuel 26:11, Pentecostals often say how one should not question the authority of the pastor or prophet. The text says, “The Lord forbids that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed…”
Because of the Fall of Adam, we are all led to do the above examples, and are continuously led away from a Christless interpretation. We are prone to rip verses from their context, perform wild proof-texting, employ Bible roulette, neglect the context, banish the Author/author, and make our personal interpretation reign and rule. We, so often, embody Edward Scissor-Hands as we rip through God’s precious Word with sharp blades of subjectivism and erroneous presuppositions. This is why Christian must depend on God’s Spirit to illuminate the mind of Christ they now possess. Therefore, Christians must have a sound hermeneutic that arises and builds out from God’s own Word. Let us put away our negligent Edward Scissor-Hands-Hermeneutic and have sharp minds that conform to God’s Word (Rom. 12:2).