Friday, June 17, 2005
HOW TO MAKE THE BIBLE SAY ANYTHING
An American President once said he would rather live in Russia than in America. What President would make such a remark? It was said by the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.
But he's being quoted out of context. He actually said, "I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty--to Russia, for instance." Lincoln wrote these words while expressing regret about a dangerous trend he saw in America. He feared that many wanted to change "all men are created equal" to "all men are created equal, except non-whites." If that were to happen, Lincoln suggested, he would be more comfortable in a land where the government didn't pretend to stand for liberty. The context makes all the difference, for it tells us exactly what Abe meant to say.
But did you know that though Lincoln hated slavery, the Bible condones it? The Bible tells slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6:5). It even appears to encourage us to view Africans differently than we view other people when it says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots?" (Jer. 13:23). Why would the Ethiopian want to change his skin unless it were a less than desirable condition, and why would the author link Ethiopians to leopards unless he wanted his readers to think of black people in less than human terms?
Again, these words have been twisted out of their original setting and intent. Quoted in context, Jeremiah was not putting dark skin in an unfavorable light, any more than he was being critical of the beauty and distinctive design of a leopard's coat. Jeremiah's message is that if the leopard could change his own spots, and if an Ethiopian could change the color of his skin, then "may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil" (Jer. 13:23). The immediate context shows that Jeremiah was saying we cannot change our own hearts any more than we can change the color of our skin. Any changes we make are merely cosmetic. The context shows exactly what Jeremiah meant to say.
But did Paul encourage slaves to obey their masters? Yes, and his comments must once again be understood in light of the times and spirit in which the apostle wrote. Slavery in Roman days was often the result of war or unpaid debts. Paul taught Christians to be free if they could (1 Cor. 7:21). If that was not possible, he encouraged them to show by their behavior that their well-being was not in the hands of human masters but in the hands of God, even in bad circumstances (1 Cor. 7:20-24). When two Christians found themselves in a master-slave relationship, Paul appealed to them to treat each other as equals and as brothers who were both accountable to God for the way they treated each other (Eph. 6:5-9; Phile. 15-16).
Context. If the immediate and wider contexts are not considered, a person can make the Bible say anything he wants it to say.
The above is from a booklet called How Can I Understand the Bible
with is published by RBC Ministries
Posted by Alyfireman ::
4:29 AM ::