A Text without a Context is a Pretext for a Proof-text

By Kelly Zens

It is easy to read the Bible without considering the context of a verse.   I know that I have been guilty of this more than once. Apparently my son also learned from my example. When he was about 6 years old, I overheard my son explaining his memory verse to his little sister. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You see Melanie, that is why Uncle Joel is short, because he sinned.”

My son had not only misunderstood the passage, but like many adults had read his own experience into the passage. He also committed the fallacy of affirming the consequent.[1] In his mind the text read, if you sin (p), than you are short (q). He saw that his uncle was short and affirmed the consequent. Uncle Joel must have sinned.

            It is humorous when children make these mistakes; it is not as funny when adults do so. When I was growing up, my Bible teacher’s favorite passage was Isaiah 28:10.   “ For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…” (KJV). He used this to exemplify how God taught us and how we were to teach others.   Imagine my surprise when I looked at the context. This chapter is a warning of the judgment that is coming because the leaders rejected God’s message to them. Verses 9-10 are actually showing how the leaders mocked Isaiah for teaching with such simplicity.[2] Isaiah repeats their mockery and shows what the Lord’s message will become to them because of their rejection in verse 13. In other words this passage is a warning of judgment, not a model of good teaching. Context is very important in properly understanding a passage.

[1] Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, 4th ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2009), 74.

[2] J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 79.


Audiobook Nook

Have you ever wondered if there are certain statements which must be true in themselves? Philosophers call such sentences “necessarily true” and they are self-evidently accurate without any outside support or observation. However, not all philosophers grant that such statements exist. This week, the audiobook version of Quine on the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction has been released by JM Kuczynski and narrator, A. Zens. You can also listen to an excerpt along with a special introduction by the author in podcast format as well as a similar excerpt on their previous production of The Problem of Induction. Additionally, there are free listening codes available for any Audible listeners who would like to try out either of these publications in exchange for offering a review.

If you are new to computer hacking or maybe just want to explore a few simple tools for hacking, then you may enjoy the recently released audiobook, Hacking: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to the World of Hacking. While it is practically impossible to guarantee that you are not being watched while you browse online, you can still greatly reduce your chances of others spying on you and enhance your privacy while conducting your errands online.

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