By Dotun Akinsulire

In my experience as an instructor at the Seminary, I have seen a very faulty pattern in the way some professing Christians study scriptures.

They link scriptures that don’t align, and have entirely different themes and contexts, and forcefully marry them together to support a point or justify their position.

We do a lot of mix up with elements and signs. For example, thinking everywhere you see fire in scriptures, represents anointing, or the influence of the Holy Spirit, whereas, most times, fire in scriptures is a signpost of judgement. The other day, a minister, preaching on Revelation 12, suggested that the woman in the text was Mary the mother of Jesus; wow, what an interpretation! The woman in the text was certainly not referring to an individual.

What does this tell me? Biblical illiteracy is a serious problem in the body of Christ, especially with charlatans who have hijacked the pulpit, peddling strange teachings, with very strong appeal for the undiscerning younger generation of Christians.

Biblical illiteracy breeds faulty notions about the Scriptures and erroneous doctrines in the Church. Very few have a biblical worldview.

Among many instances, women have been restricted from ministry and church leadership, and races have been demonized on account of faulty interpretation of scriptures.

What should we be doing to address the issue? We start by admitting our ignorance of how to study and interpret scriptures. We intentionally learn some basic principles of Bible interpretation.

First of, it is important that we seek to analyse scriptures within their contexts.

Never take a scripture out of its context.

Never try to make scripture say what’s it’s not saying.

Never try to merge scriptures that are unrelated, to justify a position.

Always, again, I repeat, always, seek to understand the plain meaning of a text. Ask, “what exactly is the passage saying? What is the intended meaning?”

For example, if a passage is talking about giving to a minister, don’t use it as giving to a church project.

If a scripture is talking about obeying civil authority, don’t mix it up with obeying parental authority.

When scripture is specifically referring to the nation of Israel, don’t use it as an allusion to the church.

Don’t make a prayer out of a principle that needs to be obeyed.

While there are general rules of biblical interpretation, understand that parts scriptures have different genres, and they are uniquely interpreted.

You don’t interpret the epistles the same way you’ll interpret the narratives or historical passages. You’ll shouldn’t anallyze Revelation the way you’ll do Acts of the Apostles.

There’s still more to tell, but for now, you’ll do well to heed Paul’s counsel to Timothy, to make every effort to be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

You do this by giving yourself to studying the word, equipping yourself with authentic tools of biblical interpretation. That way you’ll be presenting yourself to God and getting his approval, as a skilful worker who wouldn’t need to be embarrassed when his skill is put to the test (2 Tim 2:15).

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