Monday, December 27, 2010

Careful with that Proof-Texting

I'm accustomed to hearing a phrase similar to this: "We have to go by what the Bible says, not what man says."

And I agree that this is completely correct. But many in the Scripture-honoring crowd have adopted a mentality that they know what the Bible says, and they often have their favorite pet verses to "prove" their understanding. The problem with this is that sometimes an equally valid proof-text can be found for the other side.

For example, in a workbook for a Bible class is this question: "Did Paul desire the Corinthians' help to preach the gospel beyond them?"

And an answer given was "yes", and the proof-text for this answer was 2 Cor 10:15-16:
But we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area [of ministry] will be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel to the regions beyond you....
This indicates that Paul wanted the faith of the Corinthians to mature to the point where they could help spread the gospel beyond them.

But on the other hand, there is this proof-text in 2 Cor 11:6-9:
Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.
Here is a clear indication that Paul served them free of charge, without being a burden to them, and will continue to not be a burden to them.

So here the answer to the original question would be "no".

So which is it? Both sides have a proof-text. Both sides can claim that their side is going by what the Bible says and not what man says.

What's my point?

Just because you have a proof-text that "proves" your point, it may not actually prove your point. So perhaps we should be a little more cautious in claiming that we have the Truth because we go by the Bible.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Okay folks, this is really in the Bible:
[T]here were two women, daughters of the same mother, who acted like prostitutes in Egypt, behaving promiscuously in their youth. Their breasts were fondled there, and their virgin nipples caressed. The older one was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They became Mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah represents Samaria and Oholibah represents Jerusalem.

"Oholah acted like a prostitute even though she was Mine. She lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians: warriors dressed in blue, governors and prefects, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on steeds. She offered her sexual favors to them; all of them were the elite of Assyria. She defiled herself with all those she lusted after and with all their idols. She didn't give up her promiscuity that began in Egypt, when men slept with her in her youth, caressed her virgin nipples, and poured out their lust on her. Therefore, I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians she lusted for. They exposed her nakedness, seized her sons and daughters, and killed her with the sword. Since they executed judgment against her, she became notorious among women.

"Now her sister Oholibah saw [this], but she was [even] more depraved in her lust than Oholah, and made her promiscuous acts worse than those of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians: governors and prefects, warriors splendidly dressed, horsemen riding on steeds, all of them desirable young men. And I saw that she had defiled herself; both of them [had taken] the same path. But she increased her promiscuity when she saw male figures carved on the wall, images of the Chaldeans, engraved in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like officers, a depiction of the Babylonians in Chaldea, the land of their birth. At the sight of them she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and defiled her with their lust. But after she was defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. When she flaunted her promiscuity and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust just as I turned away from her sister. Yet she multiplied her acts of promiscuity, remembering the days of her youth when she acted like a prostitute in the land of Egypt and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions. So you revisited the indecency of your youth, when the Egyptians caressed your nipples to enjoy your youthful breasts.
This is from Ezekiel 23 (in the HCSB version). I'm especially ... intrigued? ... by the reference to pornography carvings in the wall, men "pouring out their lust" on the woman, and donkey-sized penises with stallion-sized ejaculations.


Who knew the Bible was so ... gritty?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

YHWH in Early USA

What I've read/heard is that on the day of George Washington's Presidential Inauguration, a Bible could not be found, so he and both houses of Congress up-and-went across the street to St. Paul's Chapel, and that Washington worshiped at this assembly for two years. You can google for more info, but as an example of what you'll find, here's a blurb from
A special Thanksgiving service was certainly held on April 30, 1789 in honor of Washington’s inauguration. Following the ceremony at Federal Hall, in which nobody remembered to bring a Bible, the new President and both houses of Congress walked to St. Paul’s. President George Washington, in the two years in which New York was the national capital, regularly attended St. Paul’s and his pew in the north aisle is preserved as a tourist attraction.
What's more fascinating to me is that the Tetragrammaton, the Four Letters, the Hashem, the Name, "YHWH", is part of the decor of this place. Here are two links to two different pictures (I'm not posting them as I don't have the rights to them, thus I'm merely linking to them).

In this first link, note the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments near the center of the picture, at the bottom of the center pane of the window; straight up from that, at the top of the window's outer arch, is the decoration containing the Tetragrammaton. If you let your browser show the image at full-size, you can actually see a blurry image of the Tetragrammaton.

And here is a black-and-white close-up of that decoration: